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THE LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
LOS ANGELES 



THE PRELUDE, 



OR 



GROWTH OF A POETS MIND; 



&ut0Mograpjjtcal 



BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. 



WITH NOTES 



BY A. J. GEORGE, A.M., 

ACTING PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN BOSTON UNIVERSITY; 

INSTRUCTOR IN ENGLISH LITERATURE IN THE 

NEWTON HIGH SCHOOL. 



" The child is father of the man.' 1 ' 1 



BOSTON : 

D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS. 
1888. 



COPYRIGHT, 1888, 
BY A. J. GEORGE, 



J. S. GUSHING & Co., PRINTERS, BOSTON. 



STACK ANNEX 



TO THE MEMORY 



Norman f^utoson, 3L3L23., 



VHOSE RARE QUALITIES OF MIND AND HEART WERE REVEALED 

TO ME IN A LONG AND LOVING INTIMACY, AND WHOSE 

COUNSEL, ENCOURAGEMENT, AND FRIENDSHIP HAVE 

BEEN AMONG THE BLESSINGS OF MY LIFE, 

THIS SELECTION FROM HIS BELOVED 

POET IS AFFECTIONATELY 

INSCRIBED. 



PREFACE. 



The gods talk in the breath of the woods, 

They talk in the shaken pine, 
And fill the long reach of the old seashore 

With dialogue divine. 
And the poet who overhears 

Some random word they say, 
Is the fated man of men 

Whom the ages must obey.* 

IT is interesting in our survey of the past to study the crises in 
the world's history, and notice how Providence has, by particular 
surroundings and education, prepared special men for special 
emergencies. Seers, prophets, and teachers have been divinely 
raised up to interpret the mind of God to men, the 

Heroes, Sages, Bards sublime, 
And all that fetched the flowing rhyme 
From genuine springs. 

In one of these crises, that of the last half of the eighteenth 
century, there was a stirring of the depths in all departments of 
human life. Literature, the outcome of the whole life of a people, 
was consequently involved in the revolutionary conflagration 
which ran over all the European world, from the ashes of which 
arose new ideas of mankind. 

Poetry had been removed from its natural home, the country, 
and was forced to do service in the artificial surroundings of city 
life. In the hands of Dryden and Pope it had been shorn of all 

1 Emerson. 



v i PREFACE. 

its natural charms, and appeared in court dress with " ruffles and 
rapier." It dealt with the outside aspects and artificial manners 
of the people, and lost sight of the human heart, 
The haunt and main region of song. 

During this time, Providence was rearing amid the rural scenery 
of Cumberland and Westmoreland one who was to stand forth 
as the exponent and defender of the Beautiful, the True, and 
the Good in English poesy, and by whose heroic struggle the 
Muse was to be returned to her long-lost home. 

The face of English literature was changed by that infusion of 
new blood from the hearts of such men as constituted the new 
brotherhood. Out of the souls of Cowper, Wordsworth, and 
Coleridge the poetry of freedom, of equal rights and of universal 
brotherhood, sprang full-grown into a life of earnest protest 
against tyranny of all kinds, political, moral, or priestly, into a 
life which was to endure no decay. 

The pitiless storm of ribaldry and abuse which the leader of 
this new movement of a return to nature had to encounter, was 
such as would have discouraged any one but him who knew no fear 
save the fear to do wrong. Clad in the strength of a lofty and con- 
secrated purpose, he stood through the long pelting, true to himself, 
and all the time calmly singing from his retirement at Rydal : 

For thus I live remote 
From evil-speaking ; rancor never sought 
Comes to me not ; malignant truth, or lie. 
Hence have I genial seasons, hence have I 
Smooth passion, smooth discourse and joyous thought. 

Not a note of querulousness or bitterness escaped him. This 
was not the calm of indifference, but the calm of a nature capable 
of storms of indignation, yet under the sway of a powerful will. 
The great Preceptress by whom he was educated did not allow 
him to remain in the quietude of Nature. The poet of Humanity 

must needs 

see ill sights 
Of madding passions mutually inflamed ; 



PREFACE. vii 

or 

hang 

Brooding above the fierce confederate storm 
Of sorrow, barricado'd evermore 
Within the walls of cities. 

On his first entrance to London a new and truer idea of man 
arose within him, and in passing to that theatre where the first 
acts in the mighty drama of Revolution were being enacted, a 
revolution was produced in his own mind, and he was seized with 
those ideas which added to his enthusiasm for Nature that enthu- 
siasm for Man which characterized all his work, and raised him 
to the imperial height of a poet of the first order, a poet of the 
" moral depths of the human soul." 

Blessings be with them and eternal praise, 
Who gave us nobler loves and nobler cares, 
The Poets who on earth have made us heirs 

Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays ! 
Oh ! might my name be numbered among theirs ; 

Then gladly would I end my mortal days. 

Thus wrote Wordsworth in 1805, and long and patiently did 
he wait for the answer to his prayer. At last, in the summer of 
1839, he was permitted to realize that for which he had labored 
so assiduously and prayed so earnestly, when, by the foremost 
university of his land and the world, he was honored as one of 
the chief glories of English poetry and the greatest name since 
Milton. 

Keble, the professor of Poetry in the University, introduced 
him as being " one who had shed a celestial light upon the affec- 
tions, the occupations, and the piety of the poor." The ovation 
which he received was such as had never been witnessed there 
before, except upon the occasion of the visit of the Duke of Wel- 
lington. The long battle had been patiently and courageously 
fought, and victory was at length achieved. Of this victory the 
Rev. Frederick Robertson says : 



Viii PREFACE. 

" It was my lot, during a short university career, to witness a 
transition and a reaction, or revulsion, of public feeling with regard 
to two great men. The first of these was Arnold of Rugby ; 
the second, Wordsworth. When he came forward to receive his 
honorary degree, scarcely had his name been pronounced than 
from three thousand voices at once there broke forth a burst of 
applause echoed and taken up again and again. There were 
young eyes then filled with an emotion of which they had no 
need to be ashamed ; there were hearts beating with the proud 
feeling of triumph that at last the world had recognized the merit 
of the man they had loved so long and acknowledged as their 
teacher." 

In 1843 a s tiN greater honor was conferred upon him at the 
hands of the young Queen. He was urged to accept the Laureate- 
ship, but gratefully and respectfully declined, as he considered 
that his years unfitted him for the discharge of its duties. He 
was then in his seventy-fourth year. This brought a letter from 
the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, urging his acceptance of the 
appointment, saying, "As the Queen can select for this honor- 
able appointment no one whose claims for respect and honor, on 
account of eminence as a poet, can be placed in competition with 
you, I trust that you will no longer hesitate to accept it. There 
is but one unanimous feeling on the part of all who have heard 
of the proposal. 

"The offer was made not for the purpose of imposing upon 
you any onerous task or disagreeable duties, but in order to pay 
you that tribute of respect which is justly due to the first of living 
poets." 

This letter removed his scruples, and the laurel wreath was 
placed upon the brows " of him who uttered nothing base." He 
produced but little poetry after this date ; but there is one poem, 
written in 1846 upon the fly-leaf of a gift copy of his poems, pre- 
sented to the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, which is of 
special interest (in this Jubilee Year), as connected with his 
Laureateship. 



PREFACE. ix 

As it does not appear in any edition of his works, I give it 
entire : 

Deign, Sovereign Mistress ! to accept a lay, 

No Laureate offering of elaborate art; 
But salutation, taking its glad way 
From deep recesses of a loyal heart 

Queen, wife, and mother! may all-judging Heaven 
Shower with a bounteous hand on thee and thine 

Felicity, that only can be given 
On earth to goodness blessed by grace divine. 

Lady ! devoutly honored and beloved 
Through every realm confided to thy sway ; 

May'st thou pursue thy course by God approved, 
And he will teach thy people to obey. 

As thou art wont thy sovereignty adorn 

With woman's gentleness, yet firm and staid ; 

So shall that earthly crown thy brows have worn 
Be changed to one whose glory cannot fade. 

And now, by duty urged, I lay this book 

Before thy Majesty in humble trust, 
That on its simplest pages thou wilt look 

With a benign indulgence, more than just. 

Nor wilt thou blame an aged poet's prayer, 
That, issuing hence, may steal into thy mind, 

Some solace under weight of royal care. 
Or grief, the inheritance of human kind. 

For know we not that from celestial spheres 
When time was young an inspiration came, 

(O were it mine !) to hallow saddest tears 
And help life onward in its noblest aim? 

W. W. 
RYDAL MOUNT, gth January, 1846. 

He had sung his nunc dimittis, and composed no longer. His 
mission was completed. The bright dream of his boyhood was 



x PREFACE. 

fulfilled, and that spirit singled out for holy services, after the 
discipline of sadness and suffering, entered into its rest. 

His body lies, as he had requested, in the churchyard at 
Grasmere, in the bosom of that dear vale where he had lived and 
loved and sung ; surrounded by the Dalesmen whom he honored ; 
beneath the shade of those yews planted by his own hands, in 
sound of Rotha murmuring her plaintive strain that 

" few or none 
Hear her voice right now he is gone." 

While round about in phalanx firm stand the mountains old, 
faithful guardians of the sacred spot. Earth has no more fitting 
resting-place for the dust of William Wordsworth. 

Plain is the stone that marks the Poet's rest ; 

Not marble worked beneath Italian skies 

A grey slate headstone tells where Wordsworth lies, 

Cleft from the native hills he loved the best. 

No heavier thing upon his gentle breast 

Than turf starred o'er in spring with daisy eyes, 

Nor richer music makes him lullabies 

Than Rotha fresh from yonder mountain crest. 

His name, his date, the years he lived to sing, 

Are deep incised and eloquently terse ; 

But Fancy hears the graver's hammer ring, 

And sees mid lines of much remembered verse 

These words in gold beneath his title wrought 

" Singer of Humble Themes and Noble Thought." l 

There was but one thing more which his countrymen could do 
for him, and this was not long left undone, for in the Venerable 
Abbey, surrounded by the medallion of Keble and the busts of 
Kingsley and Maurice, may be seen the life-size statue of the 
poet in white marble : he is represented seated in the attitude of 
contemplation, the characteristic of all his portraits being thus 
strikingly reproduced in the marble. Underneath are engraved 

1 H. D. Rawnsley. 



PREFACE. xi 

the words above quoted, " Blessings be with them and eternal 
praise," etc. 

The world has not often seen a life so well rounded and sym- 
metrical, a soul so strong and lofty, consecrate itself to a single 
purpose. Few poets have bequeathed to the world such a legacy 
of lofty thought and ennobling feeling which will cause all who 
love it to think the more deeply and feel the more tenderly, thus 
making men " wiser, better, and happier." 

Professor Shairp says : "No poet of modern times has had in 
him so much of the prophet. What earth's far-off, lonely moun- 
tains do for the plains and cities, that Wordsworth has done and 
will do for literature, and through literature for society; sending 
down great streams of higher truth, fresh, purifying winds of 
feeling to those who least dream from what quarter they came. 
The more thoughtful of each generation will draw nearer and 
observe him more closely, will ascend his imaginative heights 
and sit under the shadow of his profound meditations, and in 
proportion as they do so will they become more noble and pure 

in heart." 

The sunrise on his breezy lake, 

The rosy tints his sunset caught, 
World seen are gladdening all the vales 
And mountain peaks of thought. 1 

Accepting these estimates of the work and influence of Words- 
worth, my aim is to bring before the reader this simple narrative 
of the ways in which his childhood walked and of what first led 
him to the love of rivers, woods, and hills, and how the love of 
nature led him up to the love of man. Goethe said, if you would 
understand an author, you must understand his age. There can 
be no more interesting or profitable study than that which seeks 
to determine by what principles, methods, chances, and changes, 
by what impulses of the mind and heart, a great personality im- 
presses itself upon the intellectual history of a nation, and feeds 
it with moral truth and human passion. 

Whittier. 



xii PREFACE. 

It is to William Wordsworth that we owe the nineteenth cen- 
tury renaissance in English poetry, because he led it a step 
farther than it had gone before, and penetrated the heart of man 
where it seemed that all were known and explored ; he gave it a 
style which found itself the style of everybody, a style at once 
new and antique because contemporary with all the ages. In a 
word, he gave to poetry a "vital soul." 

He found us when the age had bound 
Our souls in its benumbing round ; 
He spoke and loosed our heart in tears. 
****** 
Our youth returned ; for there was shed. 
On spirits that had long been dead, 
Spirits dried up and closely furled, 
The freshness of the early world. 1 

It is the element of personality in Wordsworth's poetry which 
gives it its influence over the minds of those who enter into vital 
relations with it. He everywhere speaks to man's entire being. 
His profound thoughts, his vivid illustration, his ennobling sensi- 
bility, and his wise reflection have to do with the "here and 
now," the sphere of our interests, duties, and dangers. He 
distinctly teaches that the sphere of motives is the sphere of 
morals ; and that love of the true, the beautiful and the good in 
human action is a higher and worthier source of inspiration than 
the hatred of their opposites. He thus grounds his moral teach- 
ing upon the spirit of the Founder of Christianity, and in the Ode 
to Duty and Character of the Happy Warrior we find the highest 
manifestation of it. 

Serene will be our days and bright, 

And happy will our nature be, 
When love is an unerring light 

And joy its own security. 

1 Matthew Arnold. 



PREFACE. Xiii 

' Tis finally, the man who, lifted high, 
Conspicuous object in a Nation's eye, 
Or left unthought of in obscurity, 
Who, with a toward or untoward lot, 
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not, 
Plays in the many games of life, that one 
Where what he most doth value must be won. 
Who, not content that former worth stand fast, 
Looks forward, persevering to the last, 
From well to better, daily self-surpast ; 
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth 
Forever, and to nobler deeds give birth, 
Or he must go to dust without his fame, 
And leave a dead, unprofitable name, 
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause ; 
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws 
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause : 
This is the Happy Warrior ; this is he 
Whom every man in arms should wish to be. 

Believing that the poet's function was to 

Help life onward in its noblest aim, 

he wrote to Sir George Beaumont : " The poet is a teacher ; I 
wish to be considered as a teacher or as nothing." But his 
method is not that of the Doctrinaires and Examining Boards, for 
he had learned that the aim of education is the development' of 
all the faculties, body, soul, and spirit. He has severe words 
of condemnation for the method which produces that intellectual 
monstrosity, who 

Can string you names of countries, cities, towns, 
The whole world over, tight as beads of dew 
Upon a gossamer thread. * * * 
* * * Who must live, 
Knowing that he grows wiser every day, 
Or else not live at all. 

For this unnatural growth the trainer blame, 
Pity the tree. 



xiv PREFACE. 

He offers words of encouragement to those of us who believe 
that we should teach as Nature teaches, and that the original 
and poetic spirit in children should be encouraged rather than 
crushed out by cramming them to the throat with mere instruc- 
tion. Grandeur of character has its roots in a freedom to drink 
in other lessons than those which may be recited. 

Thy art be Nature, the live current quaff, 
And let the groveller sip his stagnant pool, 
In fear that else when Critics, grave and cool, 
Have killed him, Scorn should write his epitaph. 
******* 
How does the meadow-flower its bloom unfold ? 

Because the lovely little flower is free 
Down to its root, and in that freedom bold ; 

And so the grandeur of the forest tree 
Comes not by casting in a formal mould, 

But by its own divine vitality. 

Wordsworth was a patriot as well as a poet, and in the school 
of citizenship, too, he proves our wisest teacher, insisting that 
good citizenship cannot exist without true manhood, that the 
good citizen is the good man. This is the lesson of the French 
Revolution, and in this school Wordsworth was a pupil of the 
first rank. He was the first in England to honor the lives of men 
in all ranks, with the glory and the wealth and the beauty of 
song. He was the first to assert the right of every man to the 
best education which the State can give, and to protection from 
that greed which would oppress them with unremitting toil. He 
teaches that the only safety for a Nation is in that spirit of Frater- 
nity which binds together the rich and the poor ; that the liberty 
and true greatness of a nation are in its agreement with the 

laws of righteousness. 

By the soul 
Only the nations shall be great and free ; 

not from 

Fleets and armies, and external wealth, 

But from within proceeds a nation's strength. 



PREFACE. xv 

With youthful ardor he championed the cause of suffering 
humanity in France, when the nation seemed 

Standing on the top of golden hours. 

But when he saw the career of Napoleon begin, and France 
turn oppressor, in wrath and pity he espoused the interests of 
the oppressed nations. In a noble outburst of indignation he 
expressed his hatred of the cruel attack upon the liberties of 
Switzerland, of St. Domingo, and of the Venetian Republic. 

After the imprisonment of the patriot Toussaint L'Ouverture, 
he wrote : 

Thou hast left behind 

Powers that will work for thee ; air, earth, and skies ; 
There's not a breathing of the common wind 
That will forget thee ; thou hast great allies ; 
Thy friends are exultations, agonies, 
And love, and man's unconquerable mind. 

When at last the dreadful contest ended and the tyrant was 
overthrown at Waterloo, in humble gratitude he pours forth his 
enthusiasm and his joy that the fate of nations is knit to the 
government of God. 

To Thee, to Thee, 

Just God of Christianised Humanity, 
Shall praise be poured forth, and thanks ascend. 
That thou hast brought our warfare to an end, 
And that we need no second victory ! 
#***#* 
Blest, above measure blest, 
If on thy love our Land her hopes shall rest, 
And all the nations labor to fulfil 
Thy law, and live henceforth in peace, in pure good will. 

From his retirement at Rydal he issued poem and pamphlet in 
which he discussed 

the end 

Of civil government, and its wisest forms ; 



XVI 



PREFACE. 



also education and the duty of the State to insist upon a high 
standard of citizenship ; the poor laws ; the relation of capital to 
labor, and the rights of workmen congregated in manufactories. 
Strange themes for a poet ! They were not strange for a poet 
who had imbibed the old Teutonic spirit of the people and the 
people's rights. 

We must be free or die, who speak the tongue 
That Shakespeare spake, the faith and morals hold 
Which Milton held. 

One of the wisest of our public men has said : 

" I do not think that anybody of his time statesman, philoso- 
pher, or poet saw with such unerring insight into the great 
moral forces that determine the currents of history." 1 

As far back as 1820 he foresaw with remarkable penetration 
the movement which we designate as " Home Rule," and in a 
letter to Mrs. Hemans he said : 

" These two islands will reap the fruit of their own folly and 
madness, in becoming for the present generation the two most 
unquiet and miserable spots upon the earth." 

He must have had in perspective the great English Liberal 
when he wrote : 

Blest statesman he, whose mind's unselfish will 
Leaves her at ease among grand thoughts ; whose eye 
Sees that apart from Magnanimity 
Wisdom exists not 

Americans should claim a close relationship to Wordsworth, 
for he is spiritually akin to these patriots who stood by the side 
of Washington, and felt his great arm lean on them for support. 
His burning words upon the fate of nations which build upon 
other principles than those of truth and justice have inspired 
many of our noblest statesmen. 

In the rustic simplicity and delightful domesticity of that 

1 Hon. George F. Hoar. 



PREFACE. xvii 

Grasmere Cottage where, in manly independence, peace, and 
happy poverty, a. practical example of " plain living and high 
thinking" was given to the world, we have a picture not un- 
common in the rural villages of New England. 

In his sorrow at the worldliness and materialism of those who 
live in luxury and frivolity, he exclaims : 

Which way shall I look 
For comfort, being as I am, opprest, 
To think that now our life is only drest 
For show ; mean handiwork of craftsman, cook 
Or groom we must run glittering like a brook 
In the open sunshine, or we are unblest ; 
The richest man among us is the best. 
* * * * Rapine, Avarice, Expense. 
This is idolatry, and these we adore ; 
Plain living and high thinking are no more. 

There has been some alarm caused by the attitude of Science 
toward literary studies, and fears have been entertained that 
Poetry would be relegated to the sphere of mere pastime and 
amusement, a subject no longer needed in our education, the 
human mind having outgrown it. Aware of the arrogance and 
dogmatism with which Science is claiming the exclusive right to 
our intellectual estate, aware also of her boast that she has ban- 
ished the Muse from her birthright, we have no fears that either 
the claim or the boast can be substantiated so long as human 
tature remains what it is. 

True it is Nature hides 

Her treasures less and less. Man now presides 
In power, where once he trembled in his weakness ; 
Science advances with gigantic strides : 
But are we aught enriched in love and meekness ? 
Can aught be found in us of pure and wise 
More than in humble times graced human story ? 
That makes our heart more apt to sympathize ? 



xviii PREFACE. 

The claims of Science to "sovereign sway and masterdom" 
should be met in the spirit of candor and fair dealing, and the 
claims of Poetry pressed with earnestness. 

This will help much in determining the sphere of each and to 
what place in our system of education each is entitled. If the 
aim of education be a harmonious development of all the facul- 
ties, we assuredly need other aids than those which Science fur- 
nishes. When we consider what treatment Poetry has received 
in the house of its friends, and upon what weak arguments it has 
often rested its claim, there can be no wonder that it has received 
but a contemptuous toleration. 

The domain of Science is in no wise similar to that of Poetry, 
and the two ought never to antagonize one another. Science 
deals with the forces, e'ements, qualities, and operations of the 
material world ; it is mainly the field of acquirement ; its organ 
is the understanding, and that alone ; in the abstractions of the 
intellect it finds its food and life. Involving but one side of our 
complex nature, it has no elevating or purifying effect ; it does 
not reach the sphere of motives. 

Poetry, on the other hand, deals with the facts of our moral 
and spiritual life and develops the ethical imaginative and emo- 
tional sides of our nature : its truths are those of the heart, the 
conscience, the imagination, and those are quite as essential as 
any with which Science has to deal. Remove duty, love, grati- 
tude, admiration, reverence, and sympathy from life, and what a 
blank would be left ! Where then would be the " vision and fac- 
ulty divine " ? 

From what source is the heart to receive its warmth, the soul 
its inspiration, and life its beauty, if Science is to have supreme 
control of our mental furnishing? We certainly are in as great 
need, at the present time, of high moral character as of enlight- 
ened understanding. " A nation which exhausts all its power in 
developing steam engines and mill privileges will, in the end, 
learn that soul power is greater than steam power." 



PREFACE. xi x 

We live by admiration, hope and love, 
And even as these are well and wisely fixed 
In dignity of being we ascend. 

While Science is developing the perfect machine and pushing 
the division of labor to the extreme, literature must look to it 
that this movement which is "scientific in method, rationalistic 
in spirit, and utilitarian in purpose," shall not result in making 
man " a tool or implement." 

An eminent French critic has said that, owing to the special- 
izing tendency and the all-devouring force of Science, poetry 
would cease to be read in fifty years. After the severity with 
which Science was for so long time treated by Literature, there is 
no wonder that now, in the moment of her mighty exaltation, 
she should retaliate. 

Of the relative claims of Science and Literature, the great 
Dr. Arnold said : " If one might wish for impossibilities, I might 
then wish that my children might be well versed in physical sci- 
ence, but in due subordination to the fulness and freshness of 
their knowledge on moral subjects." 1 

In order that we may lay a deep and sure foundation for char- 
acter, we must insist that poetry be used for its power to elevate 
and refine : we must not divert it to the use of teaching logic, 
rhetoric, and the rules of poetic architecture ; if we do, we must 
not complain that we " dwindle as we pore." Let the scientist 
dive into the earth, and the philosopher soar into the sky ; but 
let us keep our feet upon the sure facts of experience, 

True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home. 

That poetry will assist us even though we be scientists, we can- 
not doubt when we view the lives of such men as Newton, Kep- 
ler, and Agassiz men who considered every new insight into 
Nature as bringing them so much nearer the mind of God. They 

1 Stanley's Life of Arnold. 



XX 



PREFACE. 



recognized a logic of the heart no less than of the head, and that 
it gave them truths that wake 

to perish never ; 

Which neither listlessness nor mad endeavor, 
Nor man, nor boy, 
Nor all that is at enmity with joy, 
Can utterly abolish or destroy. 

Thus we see that, instead of being antagonistic, Science and 
Poetry may be mutually helpful. Every new field won for Science 
may be entered and possessed by Poetry, and until the dull eye 
of the scientist is lighted up and his cold heart warmed by the 
vivifying influence of imagination, 

A primrose by the river's brim 
A yellow primrose is to him, 
And it is nothing more. 

Mr. Ruskin has told us that the difference between a tyro and 
a master is, that the one stops in details while the other refers all 
the details to a final purpose, 

By which sense is made 
Subservient still to moral purposes 
Auxiliar to divine. 

So long as we view all objects "in disconnection dull and spir- 
itless," we are dealing with nature as a mere grammarian deals 
with a poem, and are waging 

An impious warfare with the very life 
Of our own souls. 

We believe that there is no poet who will, if rightly used, do so 
much toward counteracting the utilitarian theories of our time, 
and to bring poetry and science into harmony, as will Words- 
worth. Although living in a pre-scientific age he had clear views 
upon the tendency of exclusively scientific studies, and he sought 
to counteract it by teaching us not to centre our life upon the 



PREFACE. xxi 

petty and the transient, but to rise to the higher fields beyond 
the realm of sense to the realm of spirit, where there are facts to 
be gained and relations to be adjusted, as truly as in the physi- 
cal world, and where the consequences of neglect are more fatal. 
He looks upon both sides of the shield. 

When soothing darkness spreads 

O'er hill and vale * * * 

* * * And the punctual stars 
Glitter, undisturbing, undisturbed; 
****** 
Then in full many a region, once like this, 
The assured domain of calm simplicity 
And pensive quiet, an unnatural light 

Breaks forth from a many windowed fabric huge ; 
And at the appointed hour a bell is heard, 
A local summons to unceasing toil ! 

# # * Men, maidens, youths, 
Mother and little children, boys and girls, 
Enter, and each the wonted task resumes 
Within this temple where is offered up 
To Gain, the master idol of the realm, 
Perpetual sacrifice. 

He does not hate Science because some of its votaries see 
nothing beyond it, nor decry it because of the many abuses 
attendant upon its practical application. 
Yet do I exult 

Casting reserve away, exult to see 
An intellectual mastery exercised 
O'er the blind elements ; a purpose given, 
A perseverance fed ; almost a soul 
Imparted to brute matter. 

In his Principles of Poetry he says: "If the time shall ever 
come when what is now called science shall be ready to put on, 
as it were, the form of flesh and blood, the poet will lend his 
divine spirit to aid in the transformation, and will welcome the 
being thus produced as a dear and genuine inmate of the house- 
hold of man." 



PREFACE. 

That Wordsworth's poetry will purify, dignify, and inspire 
human life we have the testimony of a Positivist, John Stuart 
Mill. When in a great mental crisis, after seeing all his schemes 
for social renovation fail, and when he was being driven to the 
verge of fatalism and despondency, he was led to the study of 
Wordsworth, and he says : " What made Wordsworth's poems 
a medicine for my state of mind was that they seemed to be the 
very culture of the feelings which I was in quest of. In them I 
seemed to draw from a source of inward joy, of sympathetic and 
imaginative pleasure which could be shared by all human beings, 
and I felt myself at once better and happier as I came under 
their influence." l 

The growth of a poet's mind, as seen in the Prelude, develop- 
ing itself serene and lofty amid the quiet and sublime influences 
of Nature, or bewildered amid those convulsions attendant upon 
the French Revolution, affords us the key to all of his later work. 
This poem was not published until the year after the author's 
death, and consequently is less known, even to students of 
Wordsworth, than almost any other of his works. 

Professor Knight has pronounced it the greatest poem of its 
kind ever contributed to literature. Mr. Myers has said that 
there is hardly any biography which can be read with such im- 
plicit confidence. The Rev. Frederick Robertson said of it : 
"The diction is always pure and clear, like an atmosphere of 
crystal pellucidness, through which you can see all objects with- 
out being diverted aside to consider the medium through which 
they are seen." Mrs. Oliphant says: "The value of the poem 
as a picture of the mental history of the period can scarcely be 
over-estimated. It is full of the freshness of the mountains and 
the thrill of simple life and nature." In Professor Shairp's most 
admirable lectures upon the Poetic Interpretation of Nature we 
find the following : " There were many who knew Wordsworth's 
poetry well while he was still alive, who felt its power, and the 

1 Autobiography. 



PREFACE. xxiil 

new light it threw upon the material world. But though they 
half guessed, they did not know the secret of it. They got 
glimpses of part, but could not grasp the philosophy on which it 
was based. But when, after his death, the Prelude was pub- 
lished, they were let into the secret; they saw the hidden founda- 
tions on which it rests as they had never seen them before. The 
smaller poems were more beautiful, more delightful, but the 
Prelude revealed the secret of their beauty. It showed that all 
Wordsworth's impassioned feeling toward Nature was no mere 
fantastic dream, but based on sanity, on a most assured and 
reasonable philosophy. It was as though one who had been 
long gazing on some building grand and fair, admiring the vast 
sweep of its walls and the strength of its battlements, without 
understanding their principle of coherence, were at length to be 
admitted inside -by the master-builder, and given a view of the 
whole plan from within, the principles of architecture, and the 
hidden substructures upon which it was built. This is what 
the Prelude does for the rest of Wordsworth's poetry." 

In every man whose life is life in any true sense of the word 
there are some central principles which move and control the 
rest, and if we are to come into a living relation with his individ- 
uality we must ascertain what these principles are. In such a 
study we pass through the creation to the mind of the creator. 

No finer estimate of Wordsworth has ever been given than 
that of Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria, the chief points 
of which are: "First, an austere purity of language, a perfect 
appropriateness of the words to the meaning. . . . Second. 
a corresponding weight and sanity of the thoughts and senti- 
ments, won not from books, but from the poet's own meditative 
observation. . . . They are fresh and have the dew upon 
them. . . . Third, the sinewy strength and originality of 
single lines and paragraphs. . . . Fourth, the perfect truth of 
nature in his images and descriptions. Fifth, a meditative pathos, 
a union of deep and subtle thought with sensibility, a sympathy 
with man as man. . . .In this mild and philosophic pathos 



xxiv PREFACE. 

Wordsworth appears to me without a compeer. . . . Last, 
and pre-eminently, I challenge for this poet the gift of imag- 
ination in the highest and strictest sense of the word. . . . 
In imaginative power he stands nearest of all modern writers to 
Shakespeare and Milton ; and yet in a kind perfectly unborrowed 
and his own." Dr. Moir, the Scottish author and critic, says : 
"Never, perhaps, in the whole range of literary history, from 
Homer downwards, did any individual, throughout the course of 
a long life, dedicate himself to poetry with a devotion so pure, so 
perfect, and so uninterrupted as he did. It was not his amuse- 
ment, his recreation, his mere pleasure. It was the main, the 
serious, the solemn business of his being. It was his morning, 
noon, and evening thought, the object of his out-door rambles, 
the subject of his in-door reflections ; and, as an art, he studied 
it as severely as ever Canova did sculpture, or Michael Angelo 
painting." * 

The inscription upon the memorial in Grasmere church is sc 
just and so comprehensive that I give it entire. 

TO THE MEMORY OF 

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. 

A TRUE PHILOSOPHER AND POET, 

WHO BY THE SPECIAL GIFT AND CALLING OF 

ALMIGHTY GOD, 

WHETHER HE DISCOURSED ON MAN OR NATURE, 
FAILED NOT TO LIFT UP THE HEART 

To HOLY THINGS, 
TIRED NOT OF MAINTAINING THE CAUSE 

OF THE POOR AND SIMPLE: 
AND so IN PERILOUS TIMES WAS RAISED UP 

To BE A CHIEF MINISTER 

NOT ONLY OF NOBLEST POESY, 

BUT OF HIGH AND SACRED TRUTH. 

THIS MEMORIAL 
Is PLACED HERE BY His FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS 

IN TESTIMONY OF 

RESPECT, AFFECTION, AND GRATITUDE. 
ANNO 1851. 

1 The Poetical Literature of the Last Half-Century. 



PREFACE. xxv 

Wordsworth's poems are so intimately connected with the 
Lake country that they are the only guide needed to that ground 
which he has rendered classic. Most of his verses were mur- 
mured in the open air, while he sat upon the mountain side and 

beheld the Sun 
Rise up and bathe the world in light ; 

or as he followed the path of the brook hurrying to its resting- 
place in the bosom of the lake ; or, in company with some loved 
friend, paced the terraced walk at Rydal, as the sun was sinking 
behind Loughrigg, and the clouds of evening began to gather 
upon the breast of Wansfell. 

The Prelude was mostly composed at Under Lancrigg, a 
terrace on the side of Helm Crag, overlooking Grasmere Vale. 
As he walked to and fro repeating the verses, they were taken 
down by his sympathetic scribes, his wife and sister. 

The Prelude is connected with all that is greatest in the 
poetical achievement of Wordsworth ; with all that makes for 
his immortality as a poet. For more than forty years it was 
suppressed, and there is no doubt but that he intended it should 
remain so for all time. How can this fact be reconciled with 
much of the current criticism which declares that he was over- 
anxious for fame? In the interval between 1799 and 1806, when 
the yoke of the Prelude rested heavily upon him, and he was 
weary of tracing 

" Home to its cloud the lightning of his mind," 

he found rest and recreation in those divine poems, The Brothers, 
Tintern Abbey, the Platonic Ode, and those shorter gems of song 
which reveal his genius at its loftiest pitch of energy, poems 
all the sweeter, perhaps, because the time devoted to them was 
stolen from the Prelude. "In writing them he was like an Eton 
boy out of bounds ; he was a truant from the Prelude ; he was 
shirking school ; he was dodging his tutor." 1 At a time when 

1 Sir Francis Doyle in Oxford Lectures. 



xxvi PREFACE. 

he had passed on to the enjoyment of other sights and sounds, 
other beauties and melodies than those of earth, his disciples 
rescued the work from oblivion, and by so doing revealed to us 
all the stormy hopes, all the struggling energies, all the solemn 
deliberations, and all the tumultuous yearnings of his lofty, 
capacious, and impassioned soul. 

We readily admit the existence of lines which are faulty in 
execution and obscure in meaning, but it must be remembered 
that the work was left in the rough and never received the final 
touches which a revision for publication would have given it. 
Had it been given to the world in the poet's time he would, no 
doubt, have pruned it and improved it in many respects. The 
pure, transparent, and beautiful English ; the grace and melody 
of versification ; the sinewy strength of single lines ; the treasures 
of imagination and the general poetic power displayed ; the min- 
gling of genius and common sense ; the spirit of candor and 
conscientiousness which pervades the whole, these stamp it as 
one of the most remarkable poetic productions in the language, 
and constitute it one of the brightest flowers in his unfading 
coronal. 

" It appears to me that the memorials of a great soul have at 
least as much claim upon our indulgence as The Memorials of 
a Quiet Life, in two volumes of somewhat humdrum prose." a 

In the notes I have endeavored to furnish such assistance his- 
torical, geographical, and explanatory as the reader would not 
be likely to get elsewhere. The localities have been carefully 
studied in* the light of the poem itself, and with the assistance 
of those local historians the dalesmen. 

It is well known to what extent and with what success the late 
Professor Hudson made use of Wordsworth in his classes, and 
that he contemplated doing for Wordsworth what he had done 
for Shakespeare. Although aware of how far this work falls 
short of what his mature judgment and ripe scholarship would 
have produced, I nevertheless hope that it may prove a help to 

1 Sir Francis Doyle in Oxford Lectures. 



PREFACE. xxvii 

those who are desirous of understanding the mind of the great 
poet. 

Grateful acknowledgments are here tendered to Hon. George 
F. Hoar, for permission to quote from a letter of his to the late 
Dr. Hudson; to the Rev. H. D. Rawnsley, Crosthwaite, Kes- 
wick, for his Sonnets at the English Lakes, one of which I have 
quoted entire ; to Mr. R. Mitchell, Jr., Wordsworth's House, 
Cockermouth, for assistance in studying the poet's birthplace ; to 
Professor William Knight, of the University of St. Andrews, for 
the privilege of using material from his edition of Wordsworth's 
poems ; and also to Mrs. William Wordsworth, of the Stepping 
Stones, Ambleside, for her interest in the work and her efforts 
to render the editor's visits to the homes and haunts of the poet 
both pleasant and profitable. Whoever writes upon the genius 
of Wordsworth must, almost of necessity, be under obligation 
to previous writers. I am especially indebted to the works of 
Professor Shairp and the Rev. Stopford Brooke ; these were my 
earliest and most helpful guides in the study of that poet 

" of the cloud, the cataract, the lake, 
Who on Helvellyn's summit wide awake, 

Catches his freshness from Archangels' wing. 

He of the rose, the violet, the spring, 
The social smile, the chain for freedom's sake." 

The Prelude will be followed by the publication of other of 
Wordsworth's poems. 

A. J. G. 

BROOKLINE, MASS., November, 1887. 



CONTENTS. 



COLERIDGE'S POEM ix 

ADVERTISEMENT TO THE PRELUDE .... i 

BOOK FIRST. Introduction. Childhood and School-Time, 3 

BOOK SECOND. School Time (continued) ... 25 
BOOK THIRD. Residence at Cambridge . . . .41 

BOOK FOURTH. Summer Vacation .... 63 

BOOK FIFTH. Books 79 

BOOK SIXTH. Cambridge and the Alps . . . 100 
BOOK SEVENTH. Residence in London . . . .127 
BOOK EIGHTH. Retrospect. Love of Nature leading to 

Love of Man 153 

BOOK NINTH. Residence in France . . . . 177 

BOOK TENTH. Residence in France (continued) . . 197 

BOOK ELEVENTH. Residence in France (concluded) . 218 
BOOK TWELFTH. Imagination and Taste, How Impaired 

and Restored 234 

BOOK THIRTEENTH. Imagination and Taste, How Im- 
paired and Restored (continued) .... 246 

BOOK FOURTEENTH. Conclusion 259 

CHRONOLOGICAL AND ITINERARY 275 

NOTES 277 



[The following lines were composed by Coleridge after listening to 
the recitation of the Prelude by its author at Coleorton, Leicestershire, 
where the Wordsworths were living in the winter of 1806.] 



TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. 



FRIEND of the wise ! and teacher of the good ! 
Into my heart have I received that lay 
More than historic, that prophetic lay 
Wherein (high theme by thee first sung aright) 
Of the foundations and the building up 
Of a Human Spirit thou hast dared to tell 
What may be told, to the understanding mind 
Revealable ; and what within the mind 
By vital breathings secret as the soul 
Of vernal growth, oft quickens in the heart 
Thoughts all too deep for words ! 

Theme hard as high, 

Of smiles spontaneous, and mysterious fears 
(The first-born they of Reason and twin birth), 
Of tides obedient to external force, 
And currents self-determined, as might seem, 
Or by some inner power : of moments awful, 
Now in thy inner life, and now abroad, 
When power streamed from thee, and thy soul received 
The Light reflected, as a light bestowed 
Of fancies fair, and milder hours of youth, 
Hyblean murmurs of poetic thought 



XXX COLERIDGE'S POEM. 

Industrious in its joy, in vales and glens, 
Native or outland, lakes and famous hills ! 
Or on the lonely high-road, when the stars 
Were rising ; or by secret mountain-streams, 
The guides and the companions of thy way ! 
Of more than Fancy, of the Social Sense 
Distending wide, and man beloved as man, 
Where France in all her towns lay vibrating 
Like some becalmed bark beneath the burst 
Of Heaven's immediate thunder, when no cloud 
Is visible, or shadow on the main. 
For thou wert there, thine own brows garlanded, 
Amid the tremor of a realm aglow, 
Amid a mighty nation jubilant, 
When from the general heart of humankind 
Hope sprang forth like a full-born Deity ! 
Of that dear Hope afflicted and struck down, 
So summoned homeward, thenceforth calm and sure, 
From the dread watch-tower of man's absolute self, 
With light unwaning on her eyes, to look 
Far on herself a glory to behold. 
The Angel of the vision ! Then (last strain) 
Of Duty, chosen laws controlling choice, 
Action and joy ! An Orphic song indeed, 
A song divine of high and passionate thoughts 
To their own music chanted ! 

O great Bard ! 

Ere yet that last strain dying awed the air, 
With steadfast eye I viewed thee in the choir 
Of ever-enduring men. The truly great 
Have all one age, and from one visible space 



COLERIDGE'S POEM. xxxi 

Shed influence ! They, both in power and act, 
Are permanent, and Time is not with them, 
Save as it worketh for them, they in it. 
Nor less a sacred roll, than those of old, 
And to be placed, as they, with gradual fame 
Among the archives of mankind, thy work 
Makes audible a linked lay of Truth, 
Of Truth profound a sweet continuous lay, 
Not learnt, but native, her own natural notes ! 
Ah ! as I listened with a heart forlorn, 
The pulses of my being beat anew : 
And even as life returns upon the drowned, 
Life's joy rekindling roused a throng of pains 
Keen pangs of Love, awakening as a babe 
Turbulent, with an outcry in the heart ; 
And fears self-willed, that shunned the eye of hope ; 
And hope that scarce would know itself from fear ; 
Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain, 
And genius given, and knowledge won in vain ; 
And all which I had culled in wood-walks wild, 
And all which patient toil had reared, and all, 
Commune with thee had opened out but flowers 
Strewed on my corse, and borne upon my bier, 
In the same coffin, for the self-same grave ! 

Eve following eve, 

Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of Home 
Is sweetest ! moments for their own sake hailed, 
And more desired, more precious fof thy song, 
In silence listening, like a devout child, 
My soul lay passive, by thy various strain 
Driven as in surges now beneath the stars, 



xxx ii COLERIDGE'S POEM. 

With momentary stars of my own birth, 

Fair constellated foam, still darting off 

Into the darkness ; now a tranquil sea, 

Outspread and bright, yet swelling to the moon. 

And when ! O Friend ! my comforter and guide ! 

Strong in thyself and powerful to give strength ! 

Thy long-sustained Song finally closed, 

And thy deep voice had ceased yet thou thyself 

Wert still before my eyes, and round us both 

That happy vision of beloved faces 

Scarce conscious, and yet conscious of its close 

I sate, my being blended in one thought 

(Thought was it ? or aspiration ? or resolve ?) 

Absorbed, yet hanging still upon the sound 

And when I rose I found myself in prayer. 



THE PRELUDE, 

OR GROWTH OF A POET'S MIND; 

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL POEM. 

AD VERTISEMENT. 

THE following Poem was commenced in the beginning of the 
year 1799, and completed in the summer of 1805. 

The design and occasion of the work are described by the 
Author in his Preface to the EXCURSION, first published in 1814, 
where he thus speaks : 

" Several years ago, when the Author retired to his native 
mountains with the hope of being enabled to construct a literary 
work that might live, it was a reasonable thing that he should 
take a review of his own mind, and examine how far Nature and 
Education had qualified him for such an employment. 

"As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in 
verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he 
was acquainted with them. 

" That work, addressed to a dear friend, most distinguished 
for his knowledge and genius, and to whom the Author's intel- 
lect is deeply indebted, has been long finished, and the result of 
the investigation which gave rise to it, was a determination to 
compose a philosophical Poem, containing views of Man, Na- 
ture, and Society, and to be entitled the 'Recluse'; as having 
for its principal subject the sensations and opinions of a poet 
living in retirement. 



2 THE PRELUDE, 

"The preparatory Poem is biographical, and conducts the 
history of the Author's mind to the point when he was embold- 
ened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured for 
entering upon the arduous labor which he had proposed to him- 
self; and the two works have the same kind of relation to each 
other, if he may so express himself, as the Ante-chapel has to 
the body of a Gothic church. Continuing this allusion, he may 
be permitted to add, that his minor pieces, which have been 
long before the public, when they shall be properly arranged, 
will be found by the attentive reader to have such connection 
with the main work as may give them claim to be likened to the 
little cells, oratories, and sepulchral recesses, ordinarily included 
in those edifices." 

Such was the Author's language in the year 1814. 

It will thence be seen, that the present Poem was intended to 
be introductory to the RECLUSE, and that the RECLUSE, if com- 
pleted, would have consisted of Three Parts. Of these, the 
Second Part alone, viz., the EXCURSION, was finished, and given 
to the world by the Author. 

The First Book of the First Part of the RECLUSE still remains 
in manuscript, but the Third Part was only planned. The mate- 
rials of which it would have been formed have, however, been 
incorporated, for the most part, in the Author's other Publica- 
tions, written subsequently to the EXCURSION. 

The Friend, to whom the present Poem is addressed, was the 
late SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, who was resident in Malta, 
for the restoration of his health, when the greater part of it was 
composed. 

RYDAL MOUNT, July 13, 1850. 



BOOK FIRST. 



INTRODUCTION. CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL-TIME. 

THERE is blessing in this gentle breeze, 
A visitant that while it fans my cheek 

Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings 

From the green fields, and from yon azure sky, 

Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come 

To none more grateful than to me ; escaped 

From the vast city, where I long had pined 

A discontented sojourner ; now free, 

Free as a bird to settle where I will. 

What dwelling shall receive me ? in what vale 10 

Shall be my harbor? underneath what grove 

Shall I take up my home ? and what clear stream 

Shall with its murmur lull me into rest ? 

The earth is all before me. With a heart 

Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty, 

1 look about ; and should the chosen guide 
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud, 
I cannot miss my way. I breathe again ! 
Trances of thought and mountings of the mind 
Come fast upon me : it is shaken off, 20 
That burthen of my own unnatural self, 



THE PRELUDE. 

The heavy weight of many a weary day 

Not mine, and such as were not made for me. 

Long months of peace (if such bold word accord 

With any promises of human life), 

Long months of ease and undisturbed delight 

Are mine in prospect ; whither shall I turn, 

By road or pathway, or through trackless field, 

Up hill or down, or shall some floating thing 

Upon the river point me out my course ? 30 

Dear Liberty ! Yet what would it avail 
But for a gift that consecrates the joy? 
For I, methought, while the sweet breath of heaven 
Was blowing on my body, felt within 
A correspondent breeze, that gently moved 
With quickening virtue, but is now become 
A tempest, a redundant energy, 
Vexing its own creation. Thanks to both, 
And their congenial powers, that, while they join 
In breaking up a long-continued frost, 40 

Bring with them vernal promises, the hope 
Of active days urged on by flying hours, 
Days of sweet leisure, taxed with patient thought . 
Abstruse, nor wanting punctual service high, 
Matins and vespers of harmonious verse ! 

Thus far, O Friend ! did I, not used to make 
A present joy the matter of a song, 
Pour forth that day my soul in measured strains 
That would not be forgotten, and are here 
Recorded ; to the open fields I told 50 



BOOK FIRST. 5 

A prophecy : poetic numbers came 

Spontaneously to clothe in priestly robe 

A renovated spirit singled out, 

Such hope was mine, for holy services. 

My own voice cheered me, and, far more, the mind's 

Internal echo of the imperfect sound ; 

To both I listened, drawing from them both 

A cheerful confidence in things to come. 

Content and not unwilling now to give 
A respite to this passion, I paced on 60 

With brisk and eager steps ; and came, at length, 
To a green shady place, where down I sate 
Beneath a tree, slackening my thoughts by choice, 
And settling into gentler happiness. 
'Twas autumn, and a clear and placid day, 
With warmth, as much as needed, from a sun 
Two hours declined towards the west ; a day 
With silver clouds, and sunshine on the grass, 
And in the sheltered and the sheltering grove 
A perfect stillness. Many were the thoughts 70 

Encouraged and dismissed, till choice was made 
Of a known Vale, whither my feet should turn, 
Nor rest till they had reached the very door 
Of the one cottage which methought I saw. 
No picture of mere memory ever looked 
So fair ; and while upon the fancied scene 
I gazed with growing love, a higher power 
Than Fancy gave assurance of some work 
Of glory there forthwith to be begun, 
Perhaps too there performed. Thus long I mused, 80 



THE PRELUDE. 

Nor e'er lost sight of what I mused upon, 

Save when, amid the stately grove of oaks, 

Now here, now there, an acorn, from its cup 

Dislodged, through sere leaves rustled, or at once 

To the bare earth dropped with a startling sound. 

From that soft couch I rose not, till the sun 

Had almost touched the horizon ; casting then 

A backward glance upon the curling cloud 

Of city smoke, by distance ruralized ; 

Keen as a Truant or a Fugitive, 90 

But as a Pilgrim resolute, I took, 

Even with the chance equipment of that hour, 

The road that pointed toward the chosen Vale. 

It was a splendid evening, and my soul 

Once more made trial of her strength, nor lacked 

yEolian visitations j but the harp 

Was soon defrauded, and the banded host 

Of harmony dispersed in straggling sounds 

And lastly utter silence ! " Be it so ; 

Why think of anything but present good ? " too 

So, like a home-bound laborer I pursued 

My way beneath the mellowing sun, that shed 

Mild influence ; nor left in me one wish 

Again to bend the Sabbath of that time 

To a servile yoke. What need of many words ? 

A pleasant loitering journey, through three days 

Continued, brought me to my hermitage. 

I spare to tell of what ensued, the life 

In common things the endless store of things, 

Rare, or at least so seeming, every day no 

Found all about me in one neighborhood 



BOOK FIRST. 7 

The self- congratulation, and, from morn 

To night, unbroken cheerfulness serene. 

But speedily an earnest longing rose 

To brace myself to some determined aim, 

Reading or thinking ; either to lay up 

New stores, or rescue from decay the old 

By timely interference : and therewith 

Came hopes still higher, that with outward life 

I might endue some airy phantasies 120 

That had been floating loose about for years, 

And to such beings temperately deal forth 

The many feelings that oppressed my heart. 

That hope hath been discouraged ; welcome light 

Dawns from the east, but dawns to disappear 

And mock me with a sky that ripens not 

Into a steady morning : if my mind, 

Remembering the bold promise of the past, 

Would gladly grapple with some noble theme, 

Vain is her wish ; where'er she turns she finds 130 

Impediments from day to day renewed. 

And now it would content me to yield up 
Those lofty hopes awhile, for present gifts 
Of humbler industry. But, oh, dear Friend ! 
The Poet, gentle creature as he is, 
Hath, like the Lover, his unruly times ; 
His fits when he is neither sick -nor well, 
Though no distress be near him but his own 
Unmanageable thoughts : his mind, best pleased 
While she as duteous as the mother dove 140 

Sits brooding, lives not always to that end, 



THE PRELUDE. 

But like the innocent bird, hath goadings on 
That drive her as in trouble through the groves ; 
With me is now such passion, to be blamed 
No otherwise than as it lasts too long. 

When, as becomes a man who would prepare 
For such an arduous work, I through myself 
Make rigorous inquisition, the report 
Is often cheering ; for I neither seem 
To lack that first great gift, the vital soul, 150 

Nor general Truths, which are themselves a sort 
Of Elements and Agents, Under-powers, 
Subordinate helpers of the living mind : 
Nor am I naked of external things, 
Forms, images, nor numerous other aids 
Of less regard, though won perhaps with toil 
And needful to build up a Poet's praise. 
Time, place, and manners do I seek, and these 
Are found in plenteous store, but nowhere such 
As may be singled out with steady choice ; 160 

No little band of yet remembered names 
Whom I, in perfect confidence, might hope 
To summon back from lonesome banishment, 
And make them dwellers in the hearts of men 
Now living, or to live in future years. 
Sometimes the ambitious Power of choice, mistaking 
Proud spring-tide swellings for a regular sea, 
Will settle on some British theme, some old 
Romantic tale by Milton left unsung ; 
More often turning to some gentle place 170 

Within the groves of Chivalry, I pipe 



BOOK FIRST. 9 

To shepherd swains, or seated harp in hand, 

Amid reposing knights by a river side 

Or fountain, listen to the grave reports 

Of dire enchantments faced and overcome 

By the strong mind, and tales of warlike feats, 

Where spear encountered spear, and sword with sword 

Fought, as if conscious of the blazonry 

That the shield bore, so glorious was the strife ; 

Whence inspiration for a song that winds 180 

Through ever changing scenes of votive quest 

Wrongs to redress, harmonious tribute paid 

To patient courage, and unblemished truth, 

To firm devotion, zeal unquenchable, 

And Christian meekness hallowing faithful loves. 

Sometimes, more sternly moved, I would relate 

How vanquished Mithridates northward passed, 

And, hidden in the cloud of years, became 

Odin, the Father of a race by whom 

Perished the Roman Empire ; how the friends 190 

And followers of Sertorious, out of Spain, 

Flying, found shelter in the Fortunate Isles, 

And left their usages, their arts and laws, 

To disappear by a slow gradual death, * 

To dwindle and to perish one by one, 

Starved in those narrow bounds : but not the soul 

Of Liberty, which fifteen hundred years 

Survived, and, when the European came 

With skill and power that might not be withstood, 

Did, like a pestilence, maintain its hold 200 

And wasted down by glorious death that race 

Of natural heroes : or I would record 



10 THE PRELUDE. 

How, in tyrannic times, some high-souled man, 

Unnamed among the chronicles of kings, 

Suffered in silence for Truth's sake : or tell 

How that one Frenchman, through continued force 

Of meditation on the inhuman deeds 

Of those who conquered first the Indian Isles, 

Went single in his ministry across 

The Ocean; not to comfort the oppressed, 210 

But, like a thirsty wind, to roam about 

Withering the Oppressor ; how Gustavus sought 

Help at his need in Dalecarlia's mines : 

How Wallace fought for Scotland ; left the name 

Of Wallace to be found, like a wild flower, 

All over his dear Country ; left the deeds 

Of Wallace, like a family of Ghosts, 

To people the steep rocks and river banks, 

Her natural sanctuaries, with a local soul 

Of independence and stern liberty. 220 

Sometimes it suits me better to invent 

A tale from my own heart, more near akin 

To my own passions and habitual thoughts ; 

Some variegated story, in the main 

Lofty, but the unsubstantial structure melts 

Before the very sun that brightens it, 

Mist into air dissolving ! then a wish, 

My last and favorite aspiration, mounts 

With yearning towards some philosophic song 

Of Truth that cherishes our daily life ; 230 

With meditations passionate from deep 

Recesses in man's heart, immortal verse 

Thoughtfully fitted to the Orphean lyre ; 



BOOK FIRST. 11 

But from this awful burthen I full soon 

Take refuge and beguile myself with trust 

That mellower years will bring a riper mind 

And clearer insight. Thus my days are past 

In contradiction ; with no skill to part 

Vague longing, haply bred by want of power, 

From paramount impulse not to be withstood, 240 

A timorous capacity from prudence, 

From circumspection, infinite delay. 

Humility and modest awe themselves 

Betray me, serving often for a cloak 

To a more subtle selfishness ; that now 

Locks every function up in blank reserve, 

Now dupes me, trusting to an anxious eye 

That with intrusive restlessness beats off 

Simplicity and self-presented truth. 

Ah ! better far than this, to stray about 250 

Voluptuously through fields and rural walks, 

And ask no record of the hours, resigned 

To vacant musing, unreproved neglect 

Of all things, and deliberate holiday. 

Far better never to have heard the name 

Of zeal and just ambition, than to live 

Baffled and plagued by a mind that every hour 

Turns recreant to her task ; takes heart again, 

Then feels immediately some hollow thought 

Hang like an interdict upon her Uopes. 260 

This is my lot ; for either still I find 

Some imperfection in the chosen theme, 

Or see of absolute accomplishment 

Much wanting, so much wanting, in myself, 



12 THE PRELUDE. 

That I recoil and droop, and seek repose 
In listlessness from vain perplexity, 
Unprofitably travelling toward the grave, 
Like a false steward who hath much received 
And renders nothing back. 

Was it for this 

That one, the fairest of all rivers, loved 270 

To blend his murmurs with my nurse's song, 
And, from his alder shades and rocky falls, 
And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice 
That flowed along my- dreams ? / For this, didst thou, 
O Derwent ! winding among grassy holms 
Where I was looking on, a babe in arms, 
Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts 
To more than infant softness, giving me 
Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind 
A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm 280 

That Nature breathes among the hills and groves ? 
When he had left the mountains and received 
On his smooth breast the shadow of those towers 
That yet survive, a shattered monument 
Of feudal sway, the bright blue river passed 
Along the margin of our terrace walk ; 
A tempting playmate whom we dearly loved. 
Oh, many a time have I, a five years' child, 
In a small mill-race severed from his stream, 
Made one long bathing of a summer's day ; 290 

Basked in the sun, and plunged and basked again 
Alternate, all a summer's day, or scoured 
The sandy fields, leaping through flowery groves 
Of yellow ragwort ; or when rock and hill, 



BOOK FIRST. 13 

The woods, and distant Skiddaw's lofty height, 

Were bronzed with deepest radiance, stood alone 

Beneath the sky, as if I had been born 

On Indian plains, and from my mother's hut 

Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport 

A naked savage, in the thunder shower. 300 



Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up 
Fostered alike by beauty and by fear 
Much favored in my birth-place, and no less 
In that beloved Vale to which ere long 
We were transplanted there were we let loose 
For sports of wider range. Ere I had told 
Ten birth-days, when among the mountain slopes 
Frost, and the breath of frosty wind, had snapped 
The last autumnal crocus, 'twas my joy 
With store of springes o'er my shoulder hung 310 

(To range the open heights where woodcocks run 
Along the smooth green turf. Through half the night, 
Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied 
That anxious visitation ; moon and stars 

Were shining o'er my head. I was alone, 
And seemed to be a trouble to the peace 
That dwelt among them. Sometimes it befell 
In these night wanderings, that a strong desire 

' O'erpowered my better reason, and the bird 
Which was the captive of another's toil 320 

Became my prey ; and when the deed was done 

1 1 heard among the solitary hills 
Low breathings coming after me, and sounds 



14 THE PRELUDE. 

. 

i Of un distinguishable motion, steps 
Almost as silent as the turf they trod. 

i 

Nor less when spring had warmed the cultured Vale, 

Moved we as plunderers where the mother-bird 

Had in high places built her lodge ; though mean 

Our object and inglorious, yet the end 

Was not ignoble. Oh ! when I have hung 330 

Above the raven's nest, by knots of grass 

And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock 

But ill sustained, and almost (so it seemed) 

Suspended by the blast that blew amain, 

Shouldering the naked crag, oh, at that time 

While on the perilous ridge I hung alone, 

With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind 

Blow through my ear ! the sky seemed not a sky 

Of earth and with what motion moved the clouds ! 

Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows 340 

Like harmony in music ; there is a dark 
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles 
Discordant elements, makes them cling together 
In one society. How strange that all 
The terrors, pains, and early miseries, 
Regrets, vexations, lassitudes interfused 
Within my mind, should e'er have borne a part, 
And that a needful part, in making up 
The calm existence that is mine when I 
Am worthy of myself ! Praise to the end ! 350 

Thanks to the means which Nature deigned to employ ; 
Whether her fearless visitings, or those 



BOOK FIRST. 15 

That came with soft alarm, like hurtless light 
Opening the peaceful clouds ; or she may use 
Severer interventions, ministry 
More palpable, as best might suit her aim. 

One summer evening (led by her) I found 
A little boat tied to a willow tree 
Within a rocky cove, its usual home. 
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in 360 

Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth 
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice 
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on ; 
Leaving behind her still, on either side, 
Small circles glittering idly in the moon, 
Until they melted all into one track 
Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows, 
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point 
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view 
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge, 370 

The horizon's utmost boundary ; far above 
Was nothing but the stars and the gray sky. 
She was an elfin pinnace ; lustily 
I dipped my oars into the silent lake, 
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat 
Went heaving through the water like a swan ; 
When, from behind that craggy steep till then 
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge, 
As if with voluntary power instinct 
Upreared its head. I struck and struck again, 380 

And growing still in stature the grim shape 
Towered up between me and the stars, and still, 



16 THE PRELUDE, 

For so it seemed, with purpose of its own 

And measured motion like a living thing, 

Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned, 

And through the silent water stole my way 

Back to the covert of the willow tree ; 

There in her mooring-place I left my bark, 

And through the meadows homeward went, in grave 

And serious mood ; but after I had seen 390 

That spectacle, for many days, my brain 

Worked with a dim and undetermined sense 

Of unknown modes of being ; o'er my thoughts 

There hung a darkness, call it solitude 

Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes 

Remained, no pleasant images of trees, 

Of sea or sky, no colors of green fields ; 

But huge and mighty forms, that do not live 

Like living men, moved slowly through the mind 

By day, and were a trouble to my dreams. 400 

Wisdom and Spirit of the universe ! 
Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought, 
That givest to forms and images a breath 
And everlasting motion, not in vain 
By day or star-light thus from my first dawn 
Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me 
The passions that build up our human soul ; 
Not with the mean and vulgar works of man, 
But with high objects, with enduring things 
With life and nature purifying thus 410 

The elements of feeling and of thought, 
And sanctifying, by such discipline, 



BOOK FIRST. 17 

Both pain and fear, until we recognize 

A grandeur in the beatings of the heart. 

Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me 

With stinted kindness. In November days, 

When vapors rolling down the valley made 

A lonely scene more lonesome, among woods, 

At noon and 'mid the calm of summer nights, 

When, by the margin of the trembling lake, 420 

Beneath the gloomy hills homeward I went 

In solitude, such intercourse was mine ; 

Mine was it in the fields both day and night, 

And by the waters, all the summer long. 

And in the frosty season, when the sun 
Was set, and visible for many a mile 
The cottage windows blazed through twilight gloom, 
I heeded not their summons : happy time 
It was indeed for all of us for me 
It was a time of rapture ! Clear and loud 430 

The village clock tolled six, I wheeled about, 
Proud and exulting like an untired horse 
That cares not for his home. All shod with steel, 
We hissed along the polished ice in games 
Confederate, imitative of the chase 
And woodland pleasures, the resounding horn, 
The pack loud chiming, and the hunted hare. 
So through the darkness and the cold we flew, 
And not a voice was idle ; with the din 
Smitten, the precipices rang aloud ; 44 

The leafless trees and every icy crag 
Tinkled like iron ; while far distant hills 



18 



THE PRELUDE. 



Into the tumult sent an alien sound 

Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the stars 

Eastward were sparkling clear, and in the west 

The orange sky of evening died away. 

Not seldom from the uproar I retired 

Into a silent bay, or sportively 

Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng, 

To cut across the reflex of a star 450 

That fled, and, flying still before me, gleamed 

Upon the glassy plain ; and oftentimes, 

When we had given our bodies to the wind, 

And all the shadowy banks on either side 

Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still 

The rapid line of motion, then at once 

Have I, reclining back upon my heels, 

Stopped short ; yet still the solitary cliffs 

Wheeled by me even as if the earth had rolled 

With visible motion her diurnal round ! 460 

Behind me did they stretch in solemn train, 

Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched 

Till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep. 

Ye Presences of Nature in the sky 
And on the earth ! Ye visions of the hills ! 
And Souls of lonely places ! can I think 
A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed 
Such ministry, when ye through many a year 
Haunting me thus among my boyish sports, 
On caves and trees, upon the woods and hills, 470 

Impressed upon all forms the characters 
Of danger or desire ; and thus did make 



BOOK FIRST. 19 

The surface of the universal earth 

With triumph and delight, with hope and fear, 

Work like a sea? 

Not uselessly employed, 

Might I pursue this theme through every change 
Of exercise and play, to which the year 
Did summon us in his delightful round. 

We were a noisy crew ; the sun in heaven 
Beheld not vales more beautiful than ours ; 480 

Nor saw a band in happiness and joy 
Richer, or worthier of the ground they trod. 
I could record with no reluctant voice 
The woods of autumn, and their hazel bowers 
With milk-white clusters hung ; the rod and line, 
True symbol .of hope's foolishness, whose strong 
And unreproved enchantment led us on 
By rocks and pools shut out from every star, 
All the green summer, to forlorn cascades 
Among the windings hid of mountain brooks, 490 

Unfading recollections ! at this hour 
The heart is almost mine with which I felt, 
From some hill-top on sunny afternoons, 
The paper kite high among fleecy clouds 
Pull at her rein like an impetuous courser ; 
Or, from the meadows sent on gusty days, 
Beheld her breast the wind, then suddenly 
Dashed headlong, and rejected by the storm. 

Ye lowly cottages wherein we dwelt, 
A ministration of your own was yours ; 500 



20 THE PRELUDE. 

Can I forget you, being as you were 

So beautiful among the pleasant fields 

In which ye stood ? or can I here forget 

The plain and seemly countenance with which 

Ye dealt out your plain comforts ? Yet had ye 

Delights and exultations of your own. 

Eager and never weary we pursued 

Our home-amusements by the warm peat-fire 

At evening, when with pencil, and smooth slate 

In square divisions parcelled out and all 510 

With crosses and with cyphers scribbled o'er, 

We schemed and puzzled, head opposed to head 

In strife too humble to be named in verse ; 

Or round the naked table, snow-white deal, 

Cherry or maple, sate in close array, 

And to the combat, Loo or Whist, led on 

A thick-ribbed army ; not, as in the world, 

Neglected and ungratefully thrown by 

Even for the very service they had wrought, 

But husbanded through many a long campaign. 520 

Uncouth assemblage was it, where no few 

Had changed their functions ; some, plebeian cards 

Which Fate, beyond the promise of their birth, 

Had dignified, and called to represent 

The persons of departed potentates. 

Oh, with what echoes on the board they fell ! 

Ironic diamonds, clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades, 

A congregation piteously akin ! 

Cheap matter offered they to boyish wit, 

Those sooty knaves, precipitated down 530 

With scoffs and taunts, like Vulcan out of heaven : 



BOOK FIRST. 21 

The paramount ace, a moon in her eclipse, 

Queens gleaming through their splendor's last decay, 

And monarchs surly at the wrongs sustained 

By royal visages. Meanwhile abroad 

Incessant rain was falling, or the frost 

Raged bitterly, with keen and silent tooth ; 

And, interrupting oft that eager game, 

From under Esthwaite's splitting fields of ice 

The pent-up air, struggling to free itself, 540 

Gave out to meadow grounds and hills a loud 

Protracted yelling, like the noise of wolves 

Howling in troops along the Bothnic Main. 

Nor, sedulous as I have been to trace 
How Nature by extrinsic passion first 
Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair, 
And made me love them, may I here omit 
How other pleasures have been mine, and joys 
Of subtler origin ; how I have felt, 
Not seldom even in that tempestuous time, 550 

Those hallowed and pure motions of the sense 
Which seem, in their simplicity, to own 
An intellectual charm ; that calm delight 
Which, if I err not, surely must belong 
To those first-born affinities that fit 
Our new existence to existing things, 
And, in our dawn of being, constitute 
The bond of union between life and joy. 

Yes, I remember when the changeful earth 
And twice five summers on my mind had stamped 560 



22 THE PRELUDE. 

The faces of the moving year, even then 
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty 
Old as creation, drinking in a pure 
Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths 
Of curling mist, or from the level plain 
Of waters colored by impending clouds. 

The sands of Westmoreland, the creeks and bays 
Of Cumbria's rocky limits, they can tell 
How, when the Sea threw off his evening shade, 
And to the shepherd's hut on distant hills 570 

Sent welcome notice of the rising moon, 
How I have stood, to fancies such as these 
A stranger, linking with the spectacle 
No conscious memory of a kindred sight, 
And bringing with me no peculiar sense 
Of quietness or peace ; yet have I stood, 
Even while mine eye hath moved o'er many a league 
Of shining water, gathering as it seemed 
Through every hair-breadth in that field of light 
New pleasure like a bee among the flowers. 580 

Thus oft amid those fits of vulgar joy 
Which, through all seasons, on a child's pursuits 
Are prompt attendants, 'mid that giddy bliss 
Which, like a tempest, works along the blood 
And is forgotten ; even then I felt 
Gleams like the flashing of a shield ; the earth 
And common face of Nature spake to me 
Rememberable things ; sometimes, 'tis true, 
By chance collisions and quaint accidents 



BOOK FIRST. 23 

(Like those ill-sorted unions, work supposed 590 

Of evil-minded fairies), yet not vain 

Nor profitless, if haply they impressed 

Collateral objects and appearances, 

Albeit lifeless then, and doomed to sleep 

Until maturer seasons called them forth 

To impregnate and to elevate the mind. 

And if the vulgar joy by its own weight 

Wearied itself out of the memory, 

The scenes which were a witness of that joy 

Remained in their substantial lineaments 600 

Depicted on the brain, and to the eye 

Were visible, a daily sight ; and thus 

By the impressive discipline of fear, 

By pleasure and repeated happiness, 

So frequently repeated, and by force 

Of obscure feelings representative 

Of things forgotten, these same scenes so bright, 

So beautiful, so majestic in themselves, 

Though yet the day was distant, did become 

Habitually dear, and all their forms 610 

And changeful colors by invisible links 

Were fastened to the affections. 

I began 

My story early not misled, I trust, 
By an infirmity of love for days 
Disowned by memory ere the breath of spring 
Planting my snowdrops among winter snows : 
Nor will it seem to thee, O Friend ! so prompt 
In sympathy, that I have lengthened out 



24 THE PRELUDE. 

With fond and feeble tongue a tedious tale. 

Meanwhile, my hope has been that I might fetch 620 

Invigorating thoughts from former years ; 

Might fix the wavering balance of my mind, 

And haply meet reproaches too, whose power 

May spur me on, in manhood now mature 

To honorable toil. Yet should these hopes 

Prove vain, and thus should neither I be taught 

To understand myself, nor thou to know 

With better knowledge how the heart was framed 

Of him thou lovest : need I dread from thee 

Harsh judgments, if the song be loth to quit 630 

Those recollected hours that have the charm 

Of visionary things, those lovely forms 

And sweet sensations that throw back our life, 

And almost make remotest infancy 

A visible scene, on which the sun is shining ? 

One end at least hath been attained ; my mind 
Hath been revived, and if this genial mood 
Desert me not, forthwith shall be brought down 
Through later years the story of my life. 
The road lies plain before me ; 'tis a theme 640 

Single and of determined bounds ; and hence 
I choose it rather at this time, than work 
Of ampler or more varied argument, 
Where I might be discomfited and lost : 
And certain hopes are with me, that to thee 
This labor will be welcome, honored Friend ! 



BOOK SECOND. 



SCHOOL-TIME. Continued. 

THUS far, O Friend ! have we, though leaving much 

Unvisited, endeavored to retrace 

The simple ways in which my childhood walked : 

Those chiefly that first led me to the love 

Of rivers, woods, and fields. The passion yet 

Was in its birth, sustained as might befall 

By nourishment that came unsought ; for still 

From week to week, from month to month, we lived 

A round of tumult. Duly were our games 

Prolonged in summer till the day-light failed : 

No chair remained before the door ; the bench 

And threshold steps were empty ; fast asleep 

The laborer, and the old man who had sate 

A later lingerer, yet the revelry 

Continued and the loud uproar : at last, 

When all the ground was dark, and twinkling stars 

Edged the black clouds, home and to bed we went, 

Feverish with weary joints and beating minds. 

Ah ! is there one who ever has been young, 

Nor needs a warning voice to tame the pride 

Of intellect and virtue's self-esteem ! 



26 THE PRELUDE. 

One is there, though the wisest and the best 

Of all mankind, who covets not at times 

Union that cannot be ; who would not give, 

If so he might, to duty and to truth 

The eagerness of infantine desire ? 

A tranquillizing spirit presses now 

On my corporeal frame, so wide appears 

The vacancy between me and those days 

Which yet have such self-presence in my mind 30 

That, musing on them, often do I seem 

Two consciousnesses, conscious of myself 

And of some other Being. A rude mass 

Of native rock, left midway in the square 

Of our small market village, was the goal 

Or centre of these sports ; and when, returned 

After long absence, thither I repaired, 

Gone was the old gray stone, and in its place 

A smart Assembly-room usurped the ground 

That hath been ours. There let the fiddle scream, 40 

And be ye happy ! Yet, my Friends ! I know 

That more than one of you will think with me 

Of those soft starry nights, and that old Dame 

From whom the stone was named, who there had sate, 

And watched her table with its huckster's wares 

Assiduous, through the length of sixty years. 

We ran a boisterous course :. the year span round 
With giddy motion. But the time approached 
That brought with it a regular desire 
For calmer pleasures, when the winning forms 50 

Of nature were collaterally attached 



BOOK SECOND. 27 

To every scheme of holiday delight, 
And every boyish sport, less grateful else 
And languidly pursued. 

When summer came, 
Our pastime was, on bright half- holidays, 
To sweep along the plain of Windermere 
With rival oars ; and the selected bourne 
Was now an Island musical with Birds 
That sang and ceased not ; now a sister Isle 
Beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert, sown 60 

With lilies of the valley like a field ; 
And now a third small Island where survived 
In solitude the ruins of a shrine 
Once to Our Lady dedicate, and served 
Daily with chaunted rites. In such a race 
So ended, disappointment could be none, 
Uneasiness, or pain, or jealousy : 
We rested in the shade, all pleased alike, 
Conquered and conqueror. Thus the pride of strength, 
And the vain-glory of superior skill, 70 

Were tempered ; thus was gradually produced 
A quiet independence of the heart ; 
And to my Friend who knows me I may add, 
Fearless of blame, that hence for future days 
Ensued a diffidence and modesty, 
And I was taught to feel, perhaps too much, 
The self-sufficing power of Solitude. 

Our daily meals were frugal, Sabine fare ! 
More than we wished we knew the blessing then 
Of vigorous hunger hence corporeal strength 80 



28 THE PRELUDE. 

Unsapped by delicate viands ; for, exclude 

A little weekly stipend, and we lived 

Through three divisions of the quartered year 

In penniless poverty. But now to school 

From the half-yearly holidays returned, 

We came with weightier purses, that sufficed 

To furnish treats more costly than the Dame 

Of the old gray stone, from her scant board, supplied. 

Hence rustic dinners on the cool green-ground, 

Or in the woods, or by a river side, 90 

Or shady fountains, while among the leaves 

Soft airs were stirring, and the mid-day sun 

Unfelt shone brightly round us in our joy. 

Nor is my aim neglected if I tell 

How sometimes, in the length of those half-years, 

We from our funds drew largely ; proud to curb, 

And eager to spur on, the galloping steed ; 

And with the courteous inn-keeper, whose stud 

Supplied our want, we haply might employ 

Sly subterfuge, if the adventure's bound 100 

Were distant : some famed temple where of yore 

The Druids worshipped, or the antique walls 

Of that large Abbey where within the Vale 

Of Nightshade, to St. Mary's honor built, 

Stands yet a mouldering pile with fractured arch, 

Belfry, and images, and living trees ; 

A holy scene ! Along the smooth green turf 

Our horses grazed. To more than inland peace, 

Left by the west wind sweeping overhead 

From a tumultuous ocean, trees and towers no 

In that sequestered valley may be seen, 



BOOK SECOND. 29 

Both silent and both motionless alike : 
Such the deep shelter that is there, and such 
The safeguard for repose and quietness. 

Our steeds remounted and the summons given, 
With whip and spur we through the chauntry flew 
In uncouth race, and left the cross-legged knight, 
And the stone-abbot, and that single wren 
Which one day sang so sweetly in the nave 
Of the old church, that though from recent showers 120 
The earth was comfortless, and, touched by faint 
Internal breezes, sobbings of the place 
And respirations, from the roofless walls 
The shuddering ivy dripped large drops yet still 
So sweetly 'mid the gloom the invisible bird 
Sang to herself, that there I could have made 
My dwelling-place, and lived forever there 
To hear such music. Through the walls we flew 
And down the valley, and, a circuit made 
In wantonness of heart, through rough and smooth 130 
We scampered homewards. Oh, ye rocks and streams, 
And that still spirit shed from evening air ! 
Even in this joyous time I sometimes felt 
Your presence, when with slackened step we breathed 
Along the sides of the steep hills, or when 
Lighted by gleams of moonlight from the sea 
We beat with thundering hoofs the level sand. 

Midway on long Winander's eastern shore, 
Within the crescent of a pleasant bay, 
A tavern stood ; no homely-featured house, 140 

Primeval like its neighboring cottages, 



30 THE PRELUDE. 

But, 'twas a splendid place, the door beset 

With chaises, grooms, and liveries, and within 

Decanters, glasses, and the blood-red wine. 

In ancient times, and ere the Hall was built 

On the large island, had this dwelling been 

More worthy of a poet's love, a hut, 

Proud of its own bright fire and sycamore shade. 

But though the rhymes were gone that once inscribed 

The threshold, and large golden characters, 150 

Spread o'er the spangled sign-board, had dislodged 

The old Lion and usurped his place, in slight 

And mockery of the rustic painter's hand 

Yet, to this hour, the spot to me is dear 

With all its foolish pomp. The garden lay 

Upon a slope surmounted by a plain 

Of a small bowling-green ; beneath us stood 

A grove, with gleams of water through the trees 

And over the treetops ; nor did we want 

Refreshment, strawberries and mellow cream. 160 

There, while through half an afternoon we played 

On the smooth platform, whether skill prevailed 

Or happy blunder triumphed, bursts of glee 

Made all the mountains ring. But, ere nightfall, 

When in our pinnace we returned at leisure 

Over the shadowy lake, and to the beach 

Of some small island steered our course with one, 

The Minstrel of the Troop, and left him there, 

And rowed off gently, while he blew his flute 

Alone upon the rock oh, then, the calm 170 

And dead still water lay upon my mind 

Even with a weight of pleasure, and the sky, 



BOOK SECOND. 31 

Never before so beautiful, sank down 

Into my heart, and held me like a dream ! 

Thus were my sympathies enlarged, and thus 

Daily the common range of visible things 

Grew dear to me : already I began 

To love the sun ; a boy I loved the sun, 

Not as I since have loved him, as a pledge 

And surety of our earthly life, a light 180 

Which we behold and feel we are alive ; 

Nor for his bounty to so many worlds 

But for this cause, that I had seen him lay 

His beauty on the morning hills, had seen 

The western mountain touch his setting orb, 

In many a thoughtless hour, when, from excess 

Of happiness, my blood appeared to flow 

For its own pleasure, and I breathed with joy. 

And, from like feelings, humble though intense, 

To patriotic and domestic love 190 

Analogous, the moon to me was dear : 

For I could dream away my purposes, 

Standing to gaze upon her while she hung 

Midway between the hills, as if she knew 

No other region, but belonged to thee, 

Yea, appertained by a peculiar right 

To thee and thy gray huts, thou one dear Vale ! 

Those incidental charms which first attached 
My heart to rural objects, day by day 
Grew weaker, and I hasten on to tell 200 

How Nature, intervenient till this time 
And secondary, now at length was sought 



32 THE PRELUDE. 

For her own sake. But who shall parcel out 

His intellect by geometric rules, 

Split like a province into round and square ? 

Who knows the individual hour in which 

His habits were first sown, even as a seed? 

Who that shall point as with a wand and say 

" This portion of the river of my mind 

Came from yon fountain ? " Thou, my Friend ! art one 210 

More deeply read in thy own thoughts ; to thee 

Science appears but what in truth she is, 

Not as our glory and our absolute boast, 

But as a succedaneum, and a prop 

To our infirmity. No officious slave 

Art thou of that false secondary power 

By which we multiply distinctions, then 

Deem that our puny boundaries are things 

That we perceive, and not that we have made. 

To thee, unblinded by these formal arts, 220 

The unity of all hath been revealed, 

And thou wilt doubt, with me less aptly skilled 

Than many are to range the faculties 

In scale and order, class the cabinet 

Of their sensations, and in voluble phrase 

Run through the history and birth of each 

As of a single independent thing. 

Hard task, vain hope, to analyze the mind, 

If each most obvious and particular thought, 

Not in a mystical and idle sense, 230 

But in the words of Reason deeply weighed, 

Hath no beginning. 

Blest the infant Babe, 



BOOK SECOND. 33 

(For with my best conjecture I would trace 

Our Being's earthly progress) , blest the Babe, 

Nursed in his Mother's arms, who sinks to sleep 

Rocked on his Mother's breast ; who with his soul 

Drinks in the feelings of his Mother's eye ! 

For him, in one dear Presence, there exists 

A virtue which irradiates and exalts 

Objects through widest intercourse of sense, 240 

No outcast he, bewildered and depressed : 

Along his infant veins are interfused 

The gravitation and the filial bond 

Of nature that connect him with the world. 

Is there a flower, to which he points with hand 

Too weak to gather it, already love 

Drawn from love's purest earthly fount for him 

Hath beautified that flower ; already shades 

Of pity cast from inward tenderness 

Do fall around him upon aught that bears 250 

Unsightly marks of violence or harm. 

Emphatically such a Being lives, 

Frail creature as he is, helpless as frail, 

An inmate of this active universe : 

For feeling has to him imparted power 

That through the growing faculties of sense 

Doth like an agent of the one great Mind 

Create, creator and receiver both, 

Working but in alliance with the works 

Which it beholds. Such, verily, is the first 260 

Poetic spirit of our human life, 

By uniform control of after years, 

In most, abated or suppressed ; in some, 



34 THE PRELUDE. 

Through every change of growth and of decay, 
Pre-eminent till death. 

From early days, 

Beginning not long after that first time 
In which, a Babe, by intercourse of touch 
I held mute dialogues with my Mother's heart, 
I have endeavored to display the means 
Whereby this infant sensibility, 270 

Great birthright of our being, was in me 
Augmented and sustained. Yet is a path 
More difficult before me ; and I fear 
That in its broken windings we shall need 
The chamois' sinews, and the eagle's wing, 
For now a trouble came into my mind 
From unknown causes. I was left alone 
Seeking the visible world, nor knowing why. 
The props of my affection were removed, 
And yet the building stood, as if sustained 280 

By its own spirit ! All that I beheld 
Was dear, and hence to finer influxes 
The mind lay open to a more exact 
And close communion. Many are our joys 
In youth, but oh ! what happiness to live 
When every hour brings palpable access 
Of knowledge, when all knowledge is delight, 
And sorrow is not there ! The seasons came, 
And every season wheresoe'er I moved 
Unfolded transitory qualities, 290 

Which, but for this most watchful power of love, 
Had been neglected ; left a register 
Of permanent relations, else unknown. 



BOOK SECOND. 35 

Hence life, and change, and beauty, solitude 

More active even than " best society " 

Society made sweet as solitude 

By silent inobtrusive sympathies, 

And gentle agitations of the mind 

From manifold distinctions, difference 

Perceived in things, where, to the unwatchful eye, 300 

No difference is, and hence, from the same source, 

Sublimer joy ; for I would walk alone, 

Under the quiet stars, and at that time 

Have felt whate'er there is of power in sound 

To breathe an elevated mood, by form 

Or image unprofaned ; and I would stand, 

If the night blackened with a coming storm, 

Beneath some rock, listening to notes that are 

The ghostly language of the ancient earth, 

Or make their dim abode in distant winds. 310 

Thence did I drink the visionary power : 

And deem not profitless those fleeting moods 

Of shadowy exultation : not for this 

That they are kindred to our purer mind 

And intellectual life ; but that the soul, 

Remembering how she felt, but what she felt 

Remembering not, retains an obscure sense 

Of possible sublimity, whereto 

With growing faculties she doth aspire, 

With faculties still growing, feeling still 320 

That whatsoever point they gain, they yet 

Have something to pursue. 

And not alone, 
'Mid gloom and tumult, but no less 'mid fair 



36 THE PRELUDE. 

And tranquil scenes, that universal power 

And fitness in the latent qualities 

And essences of things, by which the mind 

Is moved with feelings of delight, to me 

Came strengthened with a superadded soul, 

A virtue not its own. My morning walks 

Were early ; oft before the hours of school 330 

I travelled round our little lake, five miles 

Of pleasant wandering. Happy time ! more dear 

For this, that one was by my side, a Friend, 

Then passionately loved ; with heart how full 

Would he peruse these lines ! For many years 

Have since flowed in between us, and, our minds 

Both silent to each other, at this time 

We live as if those hours had never been. 

Nor seldom did I lift our cottage latch 

Far earlier, ere one smoke-wreath had risen 340 

From human dwelling, or the vernal thrush 

Was audible : and sate among the woods 

Alone upon some jutting eminence, 

At the first gleam of dawn-light, when the Vale, 

Yet slumbering, lay in utter solitude. 

How shall I seek the origin ? where find 

Faith in the marvellous things which then I felt? 

Oft in these moments such a holy calm 

Would overspread my soul that bodily eyes 

Were utterly forgotten, and what I saw 350 

Appeared like something in myself, a dream, 

A prospect in the mind. 

'Twere long to tell 
What spring and autumn, what the winter snows, 



BOOK SECOND. 37 

And what the summer shade, what day and night, 

Evening and morning, sleep and waking, thought 

From sources inexhaustible, poured forth 

To feed the spirit of religious love 

In which I walked with Nature. But let this 

Be not forgotten, that I still retained 

My first creative sensibility ; 360 

That by the regular action of the world 

My soul was unsubdued. A plastic power 

Abode with me ; a forming hand, at times 

Rebellious, acting in a devious mood ; 

A local spirit of his own, at war 

With general tendency, but, for the most, 

Subservient strictly to external things 

With which it communed. An auxiliar light 

Came from my mind, which on the setting sun 

Bestowed new splendor ; the melodious birds, 370 

The fluttering breezes, fountains that run on 

Murmuring so sweetly in themselves, obeyed 

A like dominion, and the midnight storm 

Grew darker in the presence of my eye : 

Hence my obeisance, my devotion hence, 

And hence my transport. 

Nor should this, perchance, 
Pass unrecorded, that I still had loved 
The exercise and produce of a toil, 
That analytic industry to me 

More pleasing, and whose character I deem 380 

Is more poetic as resembling more 
Creative agency. The song would speak 
Of that interminable building reared 



38 THE PRELUDE. 

By observation of affinities 

In objects where no brotherhood exists 

To passive minds. My seventeenth year was come ; 

And, whether from this habit rooted now 

So deeply in my mind, or from excess 

In the great social principle of life 

Coercing all things into sympathy, 39 

To unorganic natures were transferred 

My own enjoyments ; or the power of truth 

Coming in revelation, did converse 

With things that really are ; I, at this time, 

Saw blessings spread around me like a sea. 

Thus while the days flew by and years passed on, 

From Nature and her overflowing soul, 

I had received so much that all my thoughts 

Were steeped in feeling ; I was only then 

Contented, when with bliss ineffable 400 

I felt the sentiment of Being spread 

O'er all that moves and all that seemeth still ; 

O'er all that, lost beyond the reach of thought 

And human knowledge, to the human eye 

Invisible, yet liveth to the heart : 

O'er all that leaps and runs, and shouts and sings, 

Or beats the gladsome air ; o'er all that glides 

Beneath the wave, yea, in the wave itself, 

And mighty depth of waters. Wonder not 

If high the transport, great the joy I felt, 410 

Communing in this sort through earth and heaven 

With every form of creature, as it looked 

Towards the Uncreated with a countenance 

Of adoration, with an eye of love. 



BOOK SECOND. 39 

One song they sang, and it was audible, 
Most audible then when the fleshly ear 
O'ercome by humblest prelude of that strain 
Forgot her functions, and slept undisturbed. 

If this be error, and another faith 

Find easier access to the pious mind, 420 

Yet were I grossly destitute of all 
Those human sentiments that make this earth 
So dear, if I should fail with grateful voice 
To speak of you, ye mountains, and ye lakes 
And sounding cataracts, ye mists and winds 
That dwell among the hills where I was born. 
If in my youth I have been pure in heart, 
If, mingling with the world, I am content 
With my own modest pleasures, and have lived 
With God and Nature communing, removed 430 

From little enmities and low desires, 
The gift is yours : if in these times of fear, 
This melancholy waste of hopes o'erthrown, 
If, 'mid indifference and apathy, 
And wicked exultation when good men 
On every side fall off, we know not how, 
To selfishness, disguised in gentle names 
Of peace and quiet and domestic love, 
Yet mingled not unwillingly with sneers 
On visionary minds ; if, in this time 440 

Of dereliction and dismay, I yet 
Despair not of our nature, but retain 
A more than Roman confidence, a faith 
That fails not, in all sorrow my support, 



40 THE PRELUDE. 

The blessing of my life ; the gift of yours, 

Ye winds and sounding cataracts ! 'tis yours, 

Ye mountains ! thine, O Nature ! Thou hast fed 

My lofty speculations ; and in thee, 

For this uneasy heart of ours, I find 

A never- failing principle of joy 450 

And purest passion. 

Thou, my Friend ! wert reared 
In the great city, 'mid far other scenes ; 
But we, by different roads, at length have gained 
The self-same bourne. And for this cause to thee 
I speak, unapprehensive of contempt, 
The insinuated scoff of coward tongues, 
And all that silent language which so oft 
In conversation between man and man 
Blots from the human countenance all trace 
Of beauty and of love. For thou hast sought 460 

The truth in solitude, and since the days 
That gave liberty, full long desired, 
To serve in Nature's Temple, thou hast been 
The most assiduous of her ministers ; 
In many things my brother, chiefly here 
In this our deep devotion. 

Fare thee well ! 

Health and the quiet of a healthful mind 
Attend thee ! seeking oft the haunts of men, 
And yet more often living with thyself, 
And for thyself, so happily shall thy days . 470 

Be many, and a blessing to mankind. 



BOOK THIRD. 



RESIDENCE AT CAMBRIDGE. 

IT was a dreary morning when the wheels 
Rolled over a wide plain o'erhung with clouds, 
And nothing cheered our way till first we saw 
The long-roofed chapel of King's College lift 
Turrets and pinnacles in answering files, 
Extended high above a dusky grove. 

Advancing, we espied upon the road 
A student clothed in gown and tasselled cap 
Striding along as if o'ertasked by Time, 
Or covetous of exercise and air ; : 

He passed nor was I master of my eyes 
Till he was left an arrow's flight behind. 
As near and nearer to the spot we drew, 
It seemed to suck us in with an eddy's force. 
Onward we drove beneath the Castle ; caught, 
While crossing Magdalene Bridge, a glimpse of Cam ; 
And at the Hoop alighted, famous Inn. 

My spirit was up, my thoughts were full of hope ; 
Some friends I had, acquaintances who there 



42 THE PRELUDE. 

Seemed friends, poor simple school-boys, now hung round 

With honor and importance : in a world 21 

Of welcome faces up and down I roved ; 

Questions, directions, warnings and advice, 

Flowed in upon me, from all sides ; fresh day 

Of pride and pleasure ! to myself I seemed 

A man of business and expense, and went 

From shop to shop about my own affairs, 

To Tutor or to Tailor, as befell, 

From street to street with loose and careless mind. 

I was the dreamer, they the dream ; I roamed 30 
Delighted through the motley spectacle ; 
Gowns grave, or gaudy, doctors, students, streets, 
Courts, cloisters, flocks of churches, gateways, towers : 
Migration strange for a stripling of the hills, 
A northern villager. 

As if the change 

Had waited on some Fairy's wand, at once 
Behold me rich in monies, and attired 
A splendid garb, with hose of silk, and hair 
Powdered like rimy trees, when frost is keen. 
My lordly dressing-gown, I pass it by, 4 

With other signs of manhood that supplied 
The lack of beard. The weeks went roundly on, 
With invitations, suppers, wine and fruit, 
Smooth housekeeping within, and all without 
Liberal, and suiting gentleman's array. 

The Evangelist St. John my patron was ; 
Three Gothic courts are his, and in the first 



BOOK THIRD. 43 

Was my abiding-place, a nook obscure ; 

Right underneath, the College kitchens made 

A humming sound, less tunable than bees, 50 

But hardly less industrious ; with shrill notes 

Of sharp command and scolding intermixed. 

Near me hung Trinity's loquacious clock, 

Who never let the quarters, night or day, 

Slip by him unproclaimed, and told the hours 

Twice over with a male and female voice. 

Her pealing organ was my neighbor too ; 

And from my pillow, looking forth by light 

Of moon or favoring stars, I could behold 

The antechapel where the statue stood 60 

Of Newton with his prism and silent face, 

The marble index of a mind forever 

Voyaging through strange seas of Thought alone. 

Of College labors, of the Lecturer's room 
AH studded round, as thick as chairs could stand, 
With loyal students, faithful to their books, 
Half-and-half idlers, hardy recusants, 
And honest dunces of important days, 
Examinations, when the man was weighed 
As in a balance ! of excessive hopes, 70 

Tremblings withal and commendable fears, 
Small jealousies, and triumphs good or bad 
Let others that know more speak as they know. 
Such glory was but little sought by me, 
And little won. Yet from the first crude days 
Of settling time in this untried abode, 
I was disturbed at times by prudent thoughts 



44 THE PRELUDE. 

Wishing to hope without a hope, some fear, 

About my future worldly maintenance, 

And, more than all, a strangeness in the mind, 80 

A feeling that I was not for that hour, 

Nor for that place. But wherefore be cast down? 

For (not to speak of Reason and her pure 

Reflective acts to fix the moral law 

Deep in the conscience, nor of Christian Hope, 

Bowing her head before her sister Faith 

As one far mightier), hither I had come, 

Bear witness Truth, endowed with holy powers 

And faculties, whether to work or feel. 

Oft when the dazzling show, no longer new, 90 

Had ceased to dazzle, ofttimes did I quit 

My comrades, leave the crowd, buildings and groves, 

And as I paced alone the level fields 

Far from those lovely sights and sounds sublime 

With which I had been conversant, the mind 

Drooped not ; but there into herself returning, 

With prompt rebound seemed fresh as heretofore. 

At least I more distinctly recognized 

Her native instincts : let me dare to speak 

A higher language, say that now I felt 100 

What independent solaces were mine, 

To mitigate the injurious sway of place 

Or circumstance, how far soever changed 

In youth, or to be changed in after years. 

As, if awakened, summoned, roused, constrained, 

I looked for universal things ; perused 

The common countenance of earth and sky : 

Earth, nowhere unembellished by some trace 



BOOK THIRD. 45 

Of that first Paradise whence man was driven ; 

And sky, whose beauty and bounty are expressed no 

By the proud name she bears the name of Heaven. 

I called on both to teach me what they might ; 

Or, turning the mind in upon herself, 

Pored, watched, expected, listened, spread my thoughts 

And spread them with a wider creeping ; felt 

Incumbencies more awful, visitings 

Of the Upholder of the tranquil soul 

That tolerates the indignities of Time, 

And from the centre of Eternity 

All finite motions overruling, lives 120 

In glory immutable. But peace ! enough 

Here to record that I was mounting now 

To such community with highest truth 

A track pursuing, not untrod before, 

From strict analogies by thought supplied 

Or consciousnesses not to be subdued. 

To every natural form, rock, fruit or flower, 

Even the loose stones that cover the highway, 

I gave a moral life : I saw them feel, 

Or linked them to some feeling : the great mass 130 

Lay bedded in a quickening soul, and all 

That I beheld respired with inward meaning. 

Add that whate'er of Terror or of Love 

Or Beauty Nature's daily face put on 

From transitory passion, unto this * 

I was as sensitive as waters are 

To the sky's influence in a kindred mood 

Of passion ; was obedient as a lute, 

That waits upon the touches of the wind. 



46 THE PRELUDE. 

Unknown, unthought of, yet I was most rkh 140 

I had a world about me 'twas my own ; 

I made it, for it only lived to me, 

And to the God who sees into the heart. 

Such sympathies, though rarely, were betrayed 

By outward gestures and by visible looks ; 

Some called it madness so indeed it was, 

If child-like fruitfulness in passing joy, 

If steady moods of thoughtfulness matured 

To inspiration, sort with such a name ; 

If prophecy be madness ; if things viewed 150 

By poets in old time, and higher up 

By the first men, earth's first inhabitants, 

May in these tutored days no more be seen 

With undisordered sight. But leaving this, 

It was no madness, for the bodily eye 

Amid my strongest workings evermore 

Was searching out the lines of difference 

As they lie hid in all external forms, 

Near or remote, minute or vast ; an eye 

Which, from a tree, a stone, a withered leaf, 160 

To the broad ocean and the azure heavens 

Spangled with kindred multitudes of stars, 

Could find no surface where its power might sleep : 

Which spake perpetual logic to my soul, 

And by an unrelenting agency 

Did bind my feelings even as in a chain. 

And here, O Friend ! have I retraced my life 
Up to an eminence, and told a tale 
Of matters which not falsely may be called 



BOOK THIRD. 47 

The glory of my youth. Of genius, power, 170 

Creation, and divinity itself, 

I have been speaking, for my theme has been 

What passed within me. Not of outward things 

Done visibly for other minds, words, signs, 

Symbols or actions, but of my own heart 

Have I been speaking, and my youthful mind. 

Heavens ! how awful is the might of souls, 
And what they do within themselves while yet 
The yoke of earth is new to them, the world 
Nothing but a wild field where they were sown. 180 
This is, in truth, heroic argument, 

This genuine prowess, which I wished to touch 
With hand however weak, but in the main 
It lies far hidden from the reach of words. 
Points have we all of us within our souls 
Where all stand single ; this I feel, and make 
Breathings for incommunicable powers ; 
But is not each a memory to himself? 
And, therefore, now that we must quit this theme, 

1 am not heartless, for there's not a man 190 
That lives who hath not known his god-like hours, 
And feels not what an empire we inherit 

As natural beings in the strength of Nature. 



No more ; for now into a populous plain 
We must descend. A Traveller I am, 
Whose tale is only of himself; even so, 
So be it, if the pure of heart be prompt 
To follow and if thou, my honored Friend ! 



48 THE PRELUDE. 

Who in these thoughts art ever at my side, 
Support, as heretofore, my fainting steps. 

It hath been told, that when the first delight 
That flashed upon me from this novel show 
Had failed, the mind returned into herself; 
Yet true it is, that I had made a change 
In climate, and my nature's outward coat 
Changed also slowly and insensibly. 
Full oft the quiet and exalted thoughts 
Of loneliness gave way to empty noise 
And superficial pastimes ; now and then 
Forced labor, and more frequently forced hopes ; 
And, worst of all, a treasonable growth 
Of indecisive judgment, that impaired 
And shook the mind's simplicity And yet 
This was a gladsome time. Could I behold 
Who, less insensible than sodden clay 
In a sea-river's bed at ebb of tide, 
Could have beheld with undelighted heart, 
So many happy youths, so wide and fair 
A congregation in its budding-time 
Of health and hope, and beauty, all at once 
So many divers samples from the growth 
Of life's sweet season could have seen unmoved 
That miscellaneous garland of wild flowers 
Decking the matron temples of a place 
So famous through the world ? To me, at least, 
It was a goodly prospect ; for, in sooth, 
Though I had learnt betimes to stand unpropped, 
And independent musing pleased me so 



BOOK THIRD. 49 

That spells seemed on me when I was alone, 

Yet could I only cleave to solitude 230 

In lonely places : if a throng was near, 

That way I leaned by nature, for my heart 

Was social, and loved idleness and joy. 

Not seeking those who might participate 
My deeper pleasures (nay, I had not once, 
Though not unused to mutter lonesome songs, 
Even with myself divided such delight, 
Or looked that way for aught that might be clothed 
In human language), easily I passed 
From the remembrances of better things, 240 

And slipped into the ordinary works 
Of careless youth, unburthened, unalarmed. 
Caverns there were within my mind which sun 
Could never penetrate, yet did there not 
Want store of leafy arbors where the light 
Might enter in at will. Companionships, 
Friendships, acquaintances, were welcome all. 
We sauntered, played, or rioted, we talked 
Unprofitable talk at morning hours ; 
Drifted about along the streets and walks, 250 

Read lazily in trivial books, went forth 
To gallop through the country in blind zeal 
Of senseless horsemanship, or on the breast 
Of Cam sailed boisterously, and let the stars 
Come forth, perhaps without one quiet thought. 

Such was the tenor of the second act 
In this new life. Imagination slept, 
And yet not utterly. I could not print 



50 THE PRELUDE. 

Ground where the grass had yielded to the steps 

Of generations of illustrious men, 260 

Unmoved. I could not always lightly pass 

Through the same gateways, sleep where they had slept, 

Wake where they waked, range that inclosure old, 

That garden of great intellects, undisturbed, 

Place also by the side of this dark sense 

Of noble feeling that those spiritual men, 

Even the great Newton's own ethereal self, 

Seemed humbled in these precincts thence to be 

The more endeared. Their several memories here 

(Even like their persons in their portraits clothed 270 

With the accustomed garb of daily life) 

Put on a lowly and a touching grace 

Of more distinct humanity, that left 

All genuine admiration unimpaired. 

Beside the pleasant Mill of Trompington 
I laughed with Chaucer in the hawthorn shade ; 
Heard him, while birds were warbling, tell his tales 
Of amorous passion. And that gentle Bard, 
Chosen by the Muses for their Page of State 
Sweet Spenser, moving through his clouded heaven 280 
With the moon's beauty and the moon's soft pace, 
I called him Brother, Englishman, and Friend ! 
Yea, our blind Poet, who, in his later day, 
Stood almost single, uttering odious truth 
Darkness before, and danger's voice behind, 
Soul awful if the earth has ever lodged 
An awful soul I seemed to see him here 
Familiarly, and in his scholar's dress 



BOOK THIRD. 51 

Bounding before me, yet a stripling youth 

A boy, no better, with his rosy cheeks 290 

Angelical, keen eye, courageous look, 

And conscious step of purity and pride. 

Among the band of my compeers was one 

Whom chance had stationed in the very room 

Honored by Milton's name. O temperate Bard ! 

Be it confest that, for the first time, seated 

Within thy innocent lodge and oratory, 

One of a festive circle, I poured out 

Libations, to thy memory drank, till pride 

And gratitude grew dizzy in a brain 300 

Never excited by the fumes of wine 

Before that hour, or since. Then, forth I ran 

From the assembly ; through a length of streets, 

Ran, ostrich-like, to reach our chapel door 

In not a desperate or opprobrious time, 

Albeit long after the importunate bell 

Had stopped, with wearisome Cassandra voice 

No longer haunting the dark winter night. 

Call back, O Friend ! a moment to thy mind, 

The place itself and fashion of the rites. 310 

With careless ostentation shouldering up 

My surplice, through the inferior throng I clove 

Of the plain Burghers, who in audience stood 

On the last skirts of their permitted ground, 

Under the pealing organ. Empty thoughts ! 

I am ashamed of them : and that great Bard, 

And thou, O Friend ! who in thy ample mind 

Hast placed me high above my best deserts, 

Ye will forgive the weakness of that hour, 



52 THE PRELUDE, 

In some of its unworthy vanities, 320 

Brother to many more. 

In this mixed sort 

The months passed on, remissly, not given up 
To wilful alienation from the right, 
Or walks of open scandal, but in vague 
And loose indifference, easy likings, aims 
Of a low pitch duty and zeal dismissed, 
Yet Nature, or a happy course of things 
Not doing in their stead the needful work. 
The memory languidly revolved, the heart 
Reposed in noontide rest, the inner pulse 330 

Of contemplation almost failed to beat. 
Such life might not inaptly be compared 
To a floating island, an amphibious spot 
Unsound, of spongy texture, yet withal 
\ Not wanting a fair face of water weeds 

And pleasant flowers. The thirst of living praise, 

Fit reverence for the glorious Dead, the sight 

Of those long vistas, sacred catacombs, 

Where mighty minds lie visibly entombed, 

Have often stirred the heart of youth, and bred 340 

A fervent love of rigorous discipline 

Alas ! such high emotions touched not me. 

Look was there none within these walls to shame 

My easy spirits, and discountenance 

Their light composure, far less to instil 

A calm resolve of mind, firmly addressed 

To puissant efforts. Nor was this the blame 

Of others, but my own ; I should, in truth, 

As far as doth concern my single self, 



BOOK THIRD. S3 

Misdeem most widely, lodging it elsewhere : 350 

For I, bred up 'mid Nature's luxuries, 

Was a spoiled child, and rambling like the wind, 

As I had done in daily intercourse 

With those crystalline rivers, solemn heights, 

And mountains, ranging like a fowl of the air, 

I was ill-tutored for captivity ; 

To quit my pleasure, and, from month to month, 

Take up a station calmly on the perch 

Of sedentary peace. Those lovely forms 

Had also left less space within my mind, 360 

Which, wrought upon instinctively, had found 

A freshness in those objects of her love, 

A winning power, beyond all other power. 

Not that I slighted books, that were to lack 

All sense, but other passions in me^ruled, 

Passions more fervent, making me less prompt 

To in-door study than was wise or well, 

Or suited to those years. Yet I, though used 

In magisterial liberty to rove, 

Culling such flowers of learning as might tempt 370 

A random choice, could shadow forth a place 

(If now I yield not to a flattering dream) 

Whose studious aspect should have bent me down 

To instantaneous service, should at once 

Have made me pay to science and to arts 

And written lore, acknowledged my liege lord, 

A homage frankly offered up, like that 

Which I had paid to Nature. Toil and pains 

In this recess, by thoughtful Fancy built, 

Should spread from heart to heart ; and stately groves, 



54 THE PRELUDE. 

Majestic edifices, should not want 381 

A corresponding dignity within. 
The congregating temper that pervades 
Our unripe years, not wasted, should be taught 
v To minister to works of high attempt 

Works which the enthusiast would perform with love. 
Youth should be awed, religiously possessed 
With a conviction of the power that waits 
On knowledge, when sincerely sought and prized 
For its own sake, on glory and on praise 390 

If but by labor won, and fit to endure 
The passing day ; should learn to put aside 
Her trappings here, should strip them off abashed 
Before antiquity and steadfast truth 
And strong book-mindedness ; and over all 
-, A healthy sound simplicity should reign, 
A seemly plainness, name it what you will, 
Republican or pious. 

If these thoughts 
Are a gratuitous emblazonry 

That mocks the recreant age we live in, then 400 

Be Folly and False-seeming free to affect 
Whatever formal gait of discipline 
Shall raise them highest in their own esteem 
Let them parade among the Schools at will, 
But spare the House of God. Was ever known 
The witless shepherd who persists to drive 
A flock that thirsts not to a pool disliked ? 
A weight must surely hang on days begun 
And ended with such mockery. Be wise, 



BOOK THIRD. 55 

Ye Presidents and Deans, and, till the spirit 410 

Of ancient times revive, and youth be trained 

At home in pious service, to your bells 

Give seasonable rest, for 'tis a sound 

Hollow as ever vexed the tranquil air, 

And your officious doings bring disgrace 

On the plain steeples of our English Church, 

Whose worship, 'mid remotest village trees, 

Suffers for this. Even Science, too, at hand 

In daily sight of this irreverence, 

Is smitten thence with an unnatural taint, 420 

Loses her just authority, falls beneath 

Collateral suspicion, else unknown. 

This truth escaped me not, and I confess, 

That having 'mid my native hills given loose 

To a schoolboy's vision, I had raised a pile 

Upon the basis of the coming time, 

That fell in ruins round me. Oh, what joy 

To see a sanctuary for our country's youth 

Informed with such a spirit as might be 

Its own protection ; a primeval grove, 430 

Where, though the shades with cheerfulness were filled, 

Nor indigent of songs warbled from crowds 

In under-coverts, yet the countenance 

Of the whole place should bear stamp of awe ; 

A habitation sober and demure 

For ruminating creatures, a domain 

For quiet things to wander in ; a haunt 

In which the heron should delight to feed 

By the shy rivers, and the pelican 

Upon the cypress spire in lonely thought ^ 



56 THE PRELUDE. 

Might sit and sun himself. Alas ! Alas ! 

In vain for such solemnity I looked ; 

Mine eyes were crossed by butterflies, ears vexed 

By chattering popinjays ; the inner heart 

Seemed trivial, and the impresses without 

Of a too gaudy region. 

Different sight 

Those venerable Doctors saw of old, 
When all who dwelt within these famous walls 
Led in abstemiousness a studious life ; 
When, in forlorn and naked chambers cooped 450 

And crowded, o'er the ponderous books they hung 
Like caterpillars eating out their way 
In silence, or with keen devouring noise 
Not to be tracked or fathered. Princes then 
At matins froze, and couched at curfew-time, 
Trained up through piety and zeal to prize 
Spare diet, patient labor, and plain weeds. 
O seat of Arts ! renowned throughout the world ! 
Far different service in those homely days 
The Muses' modest nurslings underwent 460 

From their first childhood : in that glorious time 
When Learning, like a stranger come from far, 
Sounding through Christian lands her trumpet, roused 
Peasant and king, when boys and youths, the growth 
Of ragged villages and crazy huts, 
Forsook their homes, and, errant in the quest 
Of Patron, famous school or friendly nook, 
Where, pensioned, they in shelter might sit down, 
From town to town and through wide scattered realms 



BOOK THIRD. 57 

Journeyed with ponderous folios in their hands ; 470 

And often, starting from some covert place, 

Saluted the chance comer on the road, 

Crying, " An obulus, a penny give 

To a poor scholar ! " when illustrious men, 

Lovers of truth, by penury constrained, 

Bucer, Erasmus, or Melancthon, read 

Before the doors or windows of their cells 

By moonshine through mere lack of taper light. 

But peace to vain regrets ! We see but darkly 
Even when we look behind us, and best things 480 

Are not so pure by nature that they needs 
Must keep to all, as fondly all believe, 
Their highest promise. If the mariner, 
When at reluctant distance he hath passed 
Some tempting island, could but know the ills 
That must have fallen upon him had he brought 
His bark to land upon the wished-for shore, 
Good cause would oft be his to thank the surf 
Whose white belt scared him thence, or wind that blew 
Inexorably adverse : for myself 490 

I grieve not ; happy is the gowned youth 
Who only misses what I missed, who falls 
No lower than I fell. 

I did not love, 

Judging not ill perhaps, the timid course 
Of our scholastic studies ; could have wished 
To see the river flow with ampler range 
And freer pace ; but more, far more, I grieved 
To see displayed among an eager few, 



58 THE PRELUDE. 

Who in the field of contest persevered, 

Passions unworthy of youth's generous heart 500 

And mounting spirit, pitiably repaid, 

When so disturbed, whatever palms are won. 

From these I turned to travel with the shoal 

Of more unthinking natures, easy minds 

And pillowy, yet not wanting love that makes 

The day pass lightly on, when foresight sleeps, 

And wisdom and the pledges interchanged 

With our own inner being are forgot. 

Yet was this deep vacation not given up 
To utter waste. Hitherto I had stood 510 

In my own mind remote from social life, 
(At least from what we commonly so name,) 
Like a lone shepherd on a promontory 
Who lacking occupation looks far forth 
Into the boundless sea, and rather makes 
Than finds what he beholds. And sure it is, 
That this first transit from the smooth delights 
And wild outlandish walks of simple youth 
To something that resembles an approach 
Towards human business, to a privileged world 520 
Within a world, a midway residence 
With all its intervenient imagery, 
Did better suit my visionary mind, 
Far better, than to have been bolted forth, 
Thrust out abruptly into Fortune's way 
Among the conflicts of substantial life ; 
By a more just gradation did lead on 
To higher things ; more naturally matured, 



BOOK THIRD. 59 

For permanent possession, better fruits, 

Whether of truth or virtue, to ensue. 530 

In serious mood, but oftener, I confess, 

With playful zest of fancy, did we note 

(How could we less?) the manners and the ways 

Of those who lived distinguished by the badge 

Of good or ill report : or those with whom 

By frame of Academic discipline 

We were perforce connected, men whose sway 

And known authority of office served 

To set our minds on edge, and did no more. 

Nor wanted we rich pastime of this kind, 540 

Found everywhere, but chiefly in the ring 

Of the grave Elders, men unsecured, grotesque 

In character, tricked out like aged trees 

Which through the lapse of their infirmity 

Give ready place to any random seed 

That chooses to be reared upon their trunks. 

Here on my view, confronting vividly 
These shepherd swains whom I had lately left, 
Appeared a different aspect of old age ; 
How different ! yet both distinctly marked, 550 

Objects embossed to catch the general eye, 
Or portraitures for special use designed, 
As some might seem, so aptly do they serve 
To illustrate Nature's book of rudiments 
That book upheld as with maternal care 
When she would enter on her tender scheme 
Of teaching comprehension with delight, 
And mingling playful with pathetic thoughts. 



60 THE PRELUDE. 

The surfaces of artificial life 

And manners finely wrought, the delicate race 560 

Of colors, lurking, gleaming up and down 
Through that state arras woven with silk and gold : 
This wily interchange of snaky hues, 
Willingly or unwillingly revealed, 
I neither knew nor cared for ; and as such 
Were wanting here, I took what might be found 
Of less elaborate fabric. At this day 
I smile, in many a mountain solitude 
Conjuring up scenes as obsolete in freaks 
Of character, in points of wit as broad, 570 

As aught by wooden images performed 
For entertainment of the gaping crowd 
At wake or fair. And oftentimes do flit 
Remembrances before me of old men 
Old humorists, who have been long in their graves, 
And having almost in my mind put off 
Their human names, have into phantoms passed 
Of texture midway between life and books. 

I play the loiterer : 'tis enough to note 
That here in dwarf proportions were expressed 580 
The limbs of the great world ; its eager strifes 
Collaterally portrayed, as in mock fight, 
A tournament of blows, some hardly dealt 
Though short of mortal combat ; and whate'er 
Might in this pageant be supposed to hit 
An artless rustic's notice, this way less, 
More that way, was not wasted upon me. 
And yet the spectacle may well demand 



BOOK THIRD. 61 

A more substantial name, no mimic show, 

Itself a living part of a live whole, 590 

A creek in the vast sea ; for all degrees 

And shapes of spurious fame and short-lived praise 

Here sate in state, and fed with daily alms 

Retainers won away from solid good ; 

And here was Labor, his own bond- slave ; Hope, 

That never set the pains against the prize ; 

Idleness halting with his weary clog, 

And poor misguided Shame, and witless Fear, 

And simple Pleasure foraging for Death ; 

Honor misplaced, and Dignity astray ; 600 

Feuds, factions, flatteries, enmity, and guile 

Murmuring submission, and bald government, 

(The idol weak as the idolater,) 

And Decency and Custom starving Truth, 

And blind Authority beating with his staff 

The child that might have led him ; Emptiness 

Followed as of good omen, and meek Worth 

Left to herself unheard of and unknown. 

Of these and other kindred notices 
I cannot say what portion is in truth 610 

The naked recollection of that time, 
And what may rather have been called to life 
By after meditation. But delight 
That, in an easy temper lulled asleep, 
Is still with Innocence its own reward, 
This was not wanting. Carelessly I roamed 
As through a wide museum from whose stores 
A casual rarity is singled out 



62 THE PRELUDE. 

And has its brief perusal, then gives way 

To others, all supplanted in their turn ; 620 

Till 'mid this crowded neighborhood of things 

That are by nature most unneighborly, 

The head turns round and cannot right itself; 

And though an aching and a barren sense 

Of gay confusion still be uppermost, 

With few wise longings and but little love, 

Yet to the memory something cleaves at last, 

Whence profit may be drawn in times to come. 

Thus in submissive idleness, my Friend ! 
The laboring time of autumn, winter, spring, 630 

Eight months ! rolled pleasingly away ; the ninth 
Came and returned me to my native hills. 



BOOK FOURTH. 



SUMMER VACATION. 

BRIGHT was the summer's noon when quickening steps 

Followed each other till a dreary moor 

Was crossed, a bare ridge clomb, upon whose top 

Standing alone, as from a rampart's edge, 

I overlooked the bed of Windermere, 

Like a vast river, stretching in the sun. 

With exultation, at my feet I saw 

Lake, islands, promontories, gleaming bays, 

A universe of Nature's fairest forms 

Proudly revealed with instantaneous burst, i< 

Magnificent, and beautiful, and gay. 

I bounded down the hill shouting amain 

For the old Ferryman ; to the shout the rocks 

Replied, and when the Charon of the flood 

Had stayed his oars, and touched the jutting pier, 

I did not step into the well-known boat 

Without a cordial greeting. Thence with speed 

Up the familiar hill I took my way 

Towards that sweet Valley where I had been reared ; 

'Twas but a short hour's walk ere veering round 2 

I saw the snow-white church upon her hill 

Sit like a throned Lady, sending out 



64 THE PRELUDE. 

A gracious look all over her domain. 

Yon azure smoke betrays the lurking town ; 

With eager footsteps I advance and reach 

The cottage threshold where my journey closed. 

Glad welcome had I, with some tears, perhaps, 

From my old Dame, so kind and motherly, 

While she perused me with a parent's pride. 

The thoughts of gratitude shall fall like dew 30 

Upon thy grave, good creature ! While my heart 

Can beat never will I forget thy name. 

Heaven's blessing be upon thee where thou liest 

After thy innocent and busy stir 

In narrow cares, thy little daily, growth 

Of calm enjoyments, after eighty years, 

And more than eighty, of untroubled life, 

Childless, yet by the strangers to thy blood 

Honored with little less than filial love. 

What joy was mine to see thee once again, 40 

Thee and thy dwelling, and a crowd of things 

About its narrow precincts all beloved, 

And many of them seeming yet my own ! 

Why should I speak of what a thousand hearts 

Have felt, and every man alive can guess ? 

The rooms, the court, the garden were not left 

Long unsaluted, nor the sunny seat 

Round the stone table under the dark pine, 

Friendly to studious or to festive hours ; 

Nor that unruly child of mountain birth, 50 

The famous brook, who, soon as he was boxed 

Within our garden, found himself at once, 

As if by trick insidious and unkind, 



BOOK FOURTH. 65 

Stripped of his voice and left to dimple down 

(Without an effort and without a will) 

A channel paved by man's officious care. 

I looked at him and smiled, and smiled again, 

And in the press of twenty thousand thoughts, 

" Ha," quoth I, " pretty prisoner, are you there ! " 

Well might sarcastic fancy then have whispered, 60 

"An emblem here behold of chy own life ; 

In its late course of even days with all 

Their smooth enthralment ; " but the heart was full, 

Too full for that reproach. My aged Dame 

Walked proudly at my side : she guided me ; 

I willing, nay nay, wishing to be led. 

The face of every neighbor whom I met 

Was like a volume to me ; some were hailed 

Upon the road, some busy at their work, 

Unceremonious greetings interchanged 70 

With half the length of a long field between. 

Among my schoolfellows, I scattered round 

Like recognitions, but with some constraint 

Attended, doubtless, with a little pride, 

But with more shame, for my habiliments, 

The transformation wrought by gay attire. 

Not less delighted did I take my place 

At our domestic table : and, dear Friend ! 

In this endeavor simply to relate 

A Poet's history, may I leave untold 80 

The thankfulness with which I laid me down 

In my accustomed bed, more welcome now 

Perhaps than if it had been more desired 

Or been more often thought of with regret ; 



66 THE PRELUDE. 

That lowly bed whence I had heard the wind 

Roar, and the rain beat hard ; where I so oft 

Had lain awake on summer nights to watch 

The moon in splendor couched among the leaves 

Of a tall ash, that near our cottage stood ; 

Had watched her with fixed eyes while to and fro 90 

In the dark summit of the wavering tree 

She rocked with every impulse of the breeze. 

Among the favorites whom it pleased me well 
To see again, was one by ancient right 
Our inmate, a rough terrier of the hills ; 
The birth and call of nature pre-ordained 
To hunt the badger and unearth the fox 
Among the impervious crags, but hating been 
From youth our own adopted, he had passed 
Into a gentler service. And when first 100 

The boyish spirit flagged, and day by day 
Along my veins I kindled with the stir, 
The fermentation, and the vernal heat 
Of poesy, affecting private shades 
Like a sick Lover, then this dog was used 
To watch me, an attendant and a friend, 
Obsequious to my steps early and late, 
Though often of such dilatory walk 
Tired, and uneasy at the halts I made. 
A hundred times when, roving high and low, no 

I have been harassed with the toil of verse, 
Much pains and little progress, and at once 
Some lovely Image in the song rose up 
Full-formed, like Venus rising from the sea ; 



BOOK FOURTH. 67 

Then have I darted forwards to let loose 

My hand upon his back with stormy joy, 

Caressing him again and yet again. 

And when at evening on the public way 

I sauntered, like a river murmuring 

And talking to itself when all things else 120 

Are still, the creature trotted on before ; 

Such was his custom ; but whene'er he met 

A passenger approaching, he would turn 

To give me timely notice, and straightway, 

Grateful for that admonishment, I hushed 

My voice, composed my gait, and, with the air 

And mien of one whose thoughts are free, advanced 

To give and take a greeting that might save 

My name from piteous rumors, such as wait 

On men suspected to be crazed in brain. 130 

Those walks well worthy to be prized and loved 
Regretted ! that word, too, was on my tongue, 
But they were richly laden with all good, 
And cannot be remembered but with thanks 
And gratitude, and perfect joy of heart 
Those walks in all their freshness now came back 
Like a returning Spring. When first I made 
Once more the circuit of our little lake, 
If ever happiness hath lodged with man, 
That day consummate happiness was mine, 140 

Wide-spreading^ steady, calm, contemplative. 
The sun was set, or setting, when I left 
Our cottage door, and evening soon brought on 
A sober hour, not winning or serene, 



68 THE PRELUDE. 

For cold and raw the air was, and untuned. 

But as a face we love is sweetest then, 

When sorrow damps it, or, whatever look 

It chance to wear, is sweetest if the heart 

Have fulness in herself; even so with me 

It fared that evening. Gently did my soul 150 

Put off her veil, and, self-transmuted, stood 

Naked, as in the presence of her God. 

While on I walked, a comfort seemed to touch 

A heart that had not been disconsolate : 

Strength came where weakness was not known to be, 

At least not felt ; and restoration came 

Like an intruder knocking at the door 

Of unacknowledged weariness. I took 

The balance, and with firm hand weighed myself. 

Of that external scene which round me lay, 160 

Little in this abstraction, did I see ; 

Remembered less ; but "I had inward hopes 

And swellings of the spirit, was wrapped and soothed, 

Conversed with promises, had glimmering views 

How life pervades the undecaying mind ; 

How the immortal soul with God-like power 

Informs, creates, and thaws the deepest sleep 

That time can lay upon her ; how on earth, 

Man, if he do but live within the light 

Of high endeavors, daily spreads abroad 170 

His being, armed with strength that cannot fail. 

Nor was there want of milder thoughts, of love, 

Of innocence, and holiday repose ; 

And more than pastoral quiet, 'mid the stir 

Of boldest projects, and a peaceful end 



BOOK FOURTH. 69 

At last, or glorious, by endurance won. 

Thus musing, in a wood I sate me down 

Alone, continuing there to muse ; the slopes 

And heights meanwhile were slowly overspread 

With darkness, and before a rippling breeze 180 

The long lake lengthened out its hoary line, 

And in the sheltered coppice where I sate, 

Around me from among the hazel leaves, 

Now here, now there, moved by the straggling wind, 

Came ever and anon a breath-like sound, 

Quick as the pantings of a faithful dog, 

The off and on companion of my walk ; 

And such, at times, believing them to be, 

I turned my head to look if he were there ; 

Then into solemn thought I passed once more. 190 

A freshness also found I at this time 
In human Life, the daily life of those 
Whose occupations really I loved ; 
The peaceful scene oft rilled me with surprise, 
Changed like a garden in the heat of spring 
After an eight-days' absence. For (to omit 
The things which were the same and yet appeared 
Far otherwise) amid this rural solitude, 
A narrow Vale where each was known to all, 
'Twas not indifferent to a youthful mind 200 

To mark some sheltering bower or sunny nook, 
Where an old man had used to sit alone, 
Now vacant ; pale-faced babes whom I had left 
In arms, now rosy prattlers at the feet 
Of a pleased grandame tottering up and down ; 



70 THE PRELUDE. 

And growing girls whose beauty, filched away 

With all its pleasant promises, was gone 

To deck some slighted playmate's homely cheek. 

Yes, I had something of a subtler sense, 
And often looking round was moved to smiles 210 

Such as a delicate work of humor breeds ; 
I read, without design, the opinions, thoughts, 
Of those plain-living people now observed 
With clearer knowledge ; with another eye 
I saw the quiet woodman in the woods, 
The shepherd roam the hills. With new delight, 
This chiefly, did I note my gray-haired Dame ; 
Saw her go forth to church or other work 
Of state equipped in monumental trim ; 
Short velvet cloak (her bonnet of the like), 220 

A mantle such as Spanish Cavaliers 
Wore in old time. Her smooth domestic life, 
Affectionate without disquietude, 
Her talk, her business, pleased me ; and no less 
Her clear though shallow stream of piety 
That ran on Sabbath days a fresher course ; 
With thoughts unfelt till now I saw her read 
Her Bible on hot Sunday afternoons, 
And loved the book, when she had dropped asleep 
And made of it a pillow for her head. 230 

Nor less do I remember to have felt, 
Distinctly manifested at this time, 
A human-heartedness about my love 
For objects hitherto the absolute wealth 
Of my own private being and no more ; 



BOOK FOURTH. 71 

Which I had loved, even as a blessed spirit 

Or Angel, if he were to dwell on earth, 

Might love in individual happiness. 

But no^w there opened on me other thoughts 

Of change, congratulation or regret, 240 

A pensive feeling ! It spread far and wide ; 

The trees, the mountains shared it, and the brooks, 

The stars of Heaven, now seen in their old haunts 

White Sirius glittering o'er the southern crags, 

Orion with his belt, and those fair Seven, 

Acquaintances of every little child, 

And Jupiter, my own beloved star ! 

Whatever shadings of mortality, 

Whatever imports from the world of death 

Had come among these objects heretofore, 250 

Were, in the main, of mood less tender : strong, 

Deep, gloomy were they, and severe ; the scatterings 

Of awe or tremulous dread, that had given way 

In later youth to yearnings of a love 

Enthusiastic, to delight and hope. 

As one who hangs down-bending from the side 
Of a slow-moving boat, upon the breast 
Of a still water, solacing himself 
With such discoveries as his eye can make 
Beneath him in the bottom of the deep, 260 

Sees many beauteous sights weeds, fishes, flowers, 
Grots, pebbles, roots of trees, and fancies more, 
Yet often is perplexed, and cannot part 
The shadow from the substance, rocks and sky, 
Mountains and clouds, reflected in the depth 



72 THE PRELUDE. 

Of the clear flood, from things which there abide 

In their true dwelling ; now is crossed by gleam 

Of his own image, by a sunbeam now, 

And wavering motions sent he knows not whence, 

Impediments that make his task more sweet ; 270 

Such pleasant office have we long pursued 

Incumbent o'er the surface of past time 

With like success, nor often have appeared 

Shapes fairer or less doubtfully discerned 

Than these to which the Tale, indulgent Friend ! 

Would now direct thy notice. Yet in spite 

Of pleasure won, and knowledge not withheld, 

There was an inner falling off I loved, 

Loved deeply all that had been loved before, 

More deeply even than ever : but a swarm 280 

Of heady schemes jostling each other, gawds, 

And feast and dance, and public revelry, 

And sports and games (too grateful in themselves, 

Yet in themselves less grateful, I believe, 

Than as they were a badge glossy and fresh 

Of manliness and freedom) all conspired 

To lure my mind from firm habitual quest 

Of feeding pleasures, to depress the zeal 

And damp those yearnings which had once been mine 

A wild, unworldly-minded youth, given up 290 

To his own eager thoughts. It would demand 

Some skill, and longer time than may be spared, 

To paint these vanities, and how they wrought 

In haunts where they, till now, had been unknown. 

It seemed the very garments that I wore 

Preyed on my strength, and stopped the quiet stream 



BOOK FOURTH. 73 

Of self-forgetfulness. 

Yes, that heartless chase 
Of trivial pleasures was a poor exchange 
For books and nature at that early age. 
'Tis true, some casual knowledge might be gained 300 
Of character or life ; but at that time, 
Of manners put to school I took small note, 
And all my deeper passions lay elsewhere. 
Far better had it been to exalt the mind 
By solitary study, to uphold 
Intense desire through meditative peace ; 
And yet, for chastisement of these regrets, 
The memory of one particular hour 
Doth here rise up against me. 'Mid a throng 
Of maids and youths, old men, and matrons staid, 310 
A medley of all tempers, I had passed 
The night in dancing, gayety and mirth, 
With din of instruments and shuffling feet, 
And glancing forms, and tapers glittering, 
And unaimed prattle flying up and down ; 
Spirits upon the stretch, and here and there 
Slight shocks of young love-liking interspersed, 
Whose transient pleasure mounted to the head, 
And tingled through the veins. Ere we retired, 
The cock had crowed, and now the eastern sky 320 
Was kindling, not unseen, from humble copse 
And open field, through which the pathway wound, 
And homeward led my steps. Magnificent 
The morning rose, in memorable pomp, 
Glorious as e'er I had beheld in front, 
The sea lay laughing at a distance ; near, 



74 THE PRELUDE. 

The solid mountains shone, bright as the clouds, 

Grain-tinctured, drenched in empyrean light ; 

And in the meadows and the lower grounds 

Was all the sweetness of a common dawn 330 

Dews, vapors, and the melody of birds, 

And laborers going forth to till the fields. 

Ah ! need I say, dear Friend ! that to the brim 

My heart was full ; I made no vows, but vows 

Were then made for me ; bond unknown to me 

Was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly, 

A dedicated Spirit. On I walked 

In thankful blessedness, which yet survives. 

Strange rendezvous ! My mind was at that time 
A parti-colored show of grave and gay, 340 

Solid and light, short-sighted and profound ; 
Of inconsiderate habits and sedate, 
Consorting in one mansion unreproved. 
The worth I knew of powers that I possessed, 
Though slighted and too oft misused. Besides, 
That summer, swarming as it did with thoughts 
Transient and idle, lacked not intervals 
When Folly from the frown of fleeting Time 
Shrunk, and the mind experienced in herself 
Conformity as just as that of old 350 

To the end and written spirit of God's works, 
Whether held forth in Nature or in Man, 
Through pregnant vision, separate or conjoined. 

When from our better selves we have too long 
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop, 



BOOK FOURTH. 75 

Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired, 

How gracious, how benign, is Solitude ; 

How potent a mere image of her sway ; 

Most potent when impressed upon the mind 

With an appropriate human centre hermit, 360 

Deep in the bosom of the wilderness ; 

Votary (in vast cathedral, where no foot 

Is treading, where no other face is seen) 

Kneeling at prayers, or watchman on the top 

Of lighthouse, beaten by Atlantic waves ; 

Or as the soul of that great Power is met 

Sometimes embodied on a public road, 

When, for the night deserted, it assumes 

A character of quiet more profound 

Than pathless wastes. 

Once, when those summer months 370 
Were flown, and autumn brought its annual show 
Of oars with oars contending, sails with sails, 
Upon Winander's spacious breast, it chanced 
That after I had left a flower-decked room 
(Whose in-door pastime, lighted up, survived 
To a late hour), and spirits overwrought 
Were making night do penance for a day 
Spent in a round of strenuous idleness 
My homeward course led up a long ascent, 
Where the road's watery surface, to the top 380 

Of that sharp rising, glittered to the moon 
And bore the semblance of another stream 
Stealing with silent lapse to join the brook 
That murmured in the vale. All else was still ; 



76 THE PRELUDE. 

No living thing appeared in earth or air, 

And, save the flowing water's peaceful voice, 

Sound there was none but, lo ! an uncouth shape, 

Shown by a sudden turning of the road, 

So near that, slipping back into the shade 

Of a thick hawthorn, I could mark him well, 390 

Myself unseen. He was of stature tall, 

A span above man's common measure, tall, 

Stiff, lank, and upright ; a more meagre man 

Was never seen before by night or day. 

Long were his arms, pallid his hands, his mouth 

Looked ghastly in the moonlight : from behind, 

A mile-stone propped him ; I could also ken 

That he was clothed in military garb, 

Though faded, yet entire. Companionless, 

No dog attending, by no staff sustained, 400 

He stood, and in his very dress appeared 

A desolation, a simplicity, 

To which the trappings of a gaudy world 

Make a strange back-ground. From his lips, ere long, 

Issued low muttered sounds, as if of pain 

Or some uneasy thought ; yet still his form 

Kept the same awful steadiness at his feet 

His shadow lay, and moved not. From self-blame 

Not wholly free, I watched him thus ; at length 

Subduing my heart's specious cowardice, 410 

I left the shady nook where I had stood 

And hailed him. Slowly from his resting-place 

He rose, and with a lean and wasted arm 

In measured gesture lifted to his head 

Returned my salutation ; then resumed 



BOOK FOURTH. 77 

His station as before ; and when I asked 

His history, the veteran, in reply, 

Was neither slow nor eager, but, unmoved, 

And with a quiet uncomplaining voice, 

A stately air of mild indifference, 420 

He told in few plain words a soldier's tale 

That in the Tropic Islands he had served, 

Whence he had landed scarcely three weeks past ; 

That on his landing he had been dismissed, 

And now was travelling towards his native home. 

This heard, I said, in pity, " Come with me." 

He stooped, and straightway from the ground took up 

An oaken staff by me yet unobserved 

A staff which must have dropped from his slack hand 

And lay till now neglected in the grass. 430 

Though weak his step and cautious, he appeared 

To travel without pain, and I beheld, 

With an astonishment but ill suppressed, 

His ghostly figure moving at my side ; 

Nor could I, while we journeyed thus, forbear 

To turn from present hardships to the past, 

And speak of war, battle, and pestilence, 

Sprinkling this talk with questions, better spared, 

On what he might himself have seen or felt. 

He all the while was in demeanor calm, 440 

Concise in answer ; solemn and sublime 

He might have seemed, but that in all he said 

There was a strange half-absence, as of one 

Knowing too well the importance of his theme, 

But feeling it no longer. Our discourse 

Soon ended, and together on we passed 



78 THE PRELUDE. 

In silence through a wood gloomy and still. 

Up-turning, then, along an open field, 

We reached a cottage. At the door I knocked, 

And earnestly to charitable care 450 

Commended him as a poor friendless man, 

Belated and by sickness overcome. 

Assured that now the traveller would repose 

In comfort, I entreated that henceforth 

He would not linger in the public ways, 

But ask for timely furtherance and help 

Such as his state required. At this reproof, 

With the same ghastly mildness in his look, 

He said, " My trust is in the God of Heaven, 

And in the eye of him who passes me ! " 460 

The cottage door was speedily unbarred. 
And now the soldier touched his hat once more 
With his lean hand, and in a faltering voice, 
Whose tone bespake reviving interests 
Till then unfelt, he thanked me ; I returned 
The farewell blessing of the patient man, 
And so we parted. Back I cast a look, 
And lingered near the door a little space, 
Then sought with quiet heart my distant home. 



BOOK FIFTH. 



BOOKS. 

WHEN Contemplation, like the night-calm felt 

Through earth and sky, spreads widely, and sends deep 

Into the soul its tranquillizing power, 

Even then I sometimes grieve for thee, O Man, 

Earth's paramount Creature ! not so much for woes 

That thou endurest ; heavy though that weight be, 

Cloud-like it mounts, or touched with light divine 

Doth melt away, but for those palms achieved, 

Through length of time, by patient exercise 

Of study and hard thought ; there, there, it is 10 

That sadness finds its fuel. Hitherto, 

In progress through this Verse, my mind hath looked 

Upon the speaking face of earth and heaven 

As her prime teacher, intercourse with man 

Established by the sovereign Intellect, 

Who through that bodily image hath diffused, 

As might appear to the eye of fleeting time, 

A deathless spirit. Thou also, man ! hast wrought, 

For commerce of thy nature with herself, 

Things that aspire to unconquerable life ; 20 

And yet we feel we cannot choose but feel 



80 THE PRELUDE. 

That they must perish. Tremblings of the heart 

It gives, to think that our immortal being 

No more shall need such garments ; and yet man, 

As long as he shall be the child of earth, 

Might almost " Weep to have " what he may lose, 

Nor be himself extinguished, but survive, 

Abject, depressed, forlorn, disconsolate. 

A thought is with me sometimes, and I say, 

Should the whole frame of earth by inward throes 30 

Be wrenched, or fire come down from far to scorch 

Her pleasant habitations, and dry up 

Old Ocean, in his bed left singed and bare, 

Yet would the living Presence still subsist 

Victorious, and composure would ensue, 

And kindlings like the morning presage sure 

Of day returning and of life revived. 

But all the meditations of mankind, 

Yea, all the adamantine holds of truth 

By reason built, or passion, which itself 40 

Is highest reason in a soul sublime ; 

The consecrated works of Bard and Sage, 

Sensuous or intellectual, wrought by men, 

Twin laborers and heirs of the same hopes ; 

Where would they be ? Oh ! why hath not the Mind 

Some element to stamp her image on 

In nature somewhat nearer to her own ? 

Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad 

Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail ? 

One day, when from my lips a like complaint 50 

Had fallen in presence of a studious friend, 



BOOK FIFTH. 81 

He with a smile made answer, that in truth 

'Twas going far to seek disquietude : 

But on the front of his reproof confessed 

That he himself had oftentimes given way 

To kindred hauntings. Whereupon I told, 

That once in the stillness of a summer's noon, 

While I was seated in a rocky cave 

By the sea-side, perusing, so it chanced, 

The famous history of the errant knight 60 

Recorded by Cervantes, these same thoughts 

Beset me, and to height unusual rose, 

While listlessly I sate, and, having closed 

The book, had turned my eyes towards the wide sea. 

On poetry and geometric truth, 

And their high privilege of lasting life, 

From all internal injury exempt, 

I mused ; upon these chiefly : and at length, 

My senses yielding to the sultry air, 

Sleep seized me, and I passed into a dream. 70 

I saw before me stretched a boundless plain 

Of sandy wilderness, all black and void, 

And as I looked around, distress and fear 

Came creeping over me, when at my side, 

Close at my side, an uncouth shape appeared 

Upon a dromedary, mounted high. 

He seemed an Arab of the Bedouin tribes : 

A lance he bore, and underneath one arm 

A stone, and in the opposite hand a shell 

Of a surpassing brightness. At the sight 80 

Much I rejoiced, not doubting but a guide 

Was present, one who with unerring skill 



82 THE PRELUDE. 

Would through the desert lead me ; and while yet 

I looked and looked, self-questioned what this freight 

Which the new comer carried through the waste 

Could mean, the Arab told me that the stone 

(To give it in the language of the dream) 

Was " Euclid's Elements ; " and " This," said he, 

" Is something of more worth; " and at the word 

Stretched forth the shell, so beautiful in shape, 90 

In color so resplendent, with command 

That I should hold it to my ear. I did so, 

And heard that instant in an unknown tongue, 

Which yet I understood, articulate sounds, 

A loud prophetic blast of harmony ; 

An Ode, in passion uttered, which foretold 

Destruction to the children of the earth 

By deluge, now at hand. No sooner ceased 

The song, than the Arab with calm look declared 

That all would come to pass of which the voice 100 

Had given forewarning, and that he himself 

Was going then to bury those two books : 

The one that held acquaintance with the stars, 

And wedded soul to soul in purest bond 

Of reason, undisturbed by space or time ; 

The other that was a god, yea many gods, 

Had voices more than all the winds, with power 

To exhilarate the spirit, and to soothe, 

Through ever) 1 clime, the heart of human kind. 

While this was uttering, strange as it may seem, no 

I wondered not, although I plainly saw 

The one to be a stone, the other a shell ; 

Nor doubted once but that they both were books, 



BOOK FIFTH. 83 

Having a perfect faith in all that passed. 

Far stronger, now, grew the desire I felt 

To cleave unto this man ; but when I prayed 

To share his enterprise, he hurried on 

Reckless of me : I followed, not unseen, 

For oftentimes he cast a backward look, 

Grasping his twofold treasure. Lance in rest, 120 

He rode, I keeping pace with him ; and now 

He, to my fancy, had become the knight 

Whose tale Cervantes tells ; yet not the knight, 

But as an Arab of the desert too ; 

Of these was neither, and was both at once. 

His countenance, meanwhile, grew more disturbed ; 

And, looking backwards when he looked, mine eyes 

Saw, over half the wilderness diffused, 

A bed of glittering light : I asked the cause : 

" It is," said he, " the waters of the deep 130 

Gathering upon us ; " quickening then the pace 

Of the unwieldy creature he bestrode, 

He left me : I called after him aloud ; 

He heeded not ; but, with his twofold charge 

Still in his grasp, before me, full in view, 

Went hurrying o'er the illimitable waste, 

With the fleet waters of a drowning world 

In chase of him ; whereat I waked in terror, 

And saw the sea before me, and the book, 

In which I had been reading, at my side. 140 

Full often, taking from the world of sleep 
This Arab phantom, which I thus beheld, 
This semi-Quixote, I to him have given 



THE PRELUDE. 

A substance, fancied him a living man, 

A gentle dweller in the desert crazed 

By love and feeling, and internal thought 

Protracted among endless solitudes ; 

Have shaped him wandering upon this quest ! 

Nor have I pitied him ; but rather felt 

Reverence was due to a being thus employed ; 150 

And thought that, in the blind and awful lair 

Of such a madness, reason did lie couched. 

Enow there are on earth to take in charge 

Their wives, their children, and their virgin loves, 

Or whatsoever else the heart holds dear ; 

Enow to stir for these ; yea, will I say, 

Contemplating in soberness the approach 

Of an event so dire, by signs in earth 

Or heaven made manifest, that I could share 

That maniac's fond anxiety, and go 160 

Upon like errand. Oftentimes at least 

Me hath such strong entrancement overcome, 

When I have held a volume in my hand, 

Poor earthly casket of immortal verse, 

Shakespeare, or Milton, laborers divine ! 

Great and benign, indeed, must be the power 
Of living nature, which could thus so long 
Detain me from the best of other guides 
And dearest helpers, left unthanked, unpraised, 
Even in the time of lisping infancy ; 170 

And later down, in prattling childhood even, 
While I was travelling back among those days 
How could I ever play an ingrate's part? 



BOOK FIFTH. 85 

Once more should I have made those bowers resound, 

By intermingling strains of thankfulness 

With their own thoughtless melodies ; at least 

It might have well beseemed me to repeat 

Some simply fashioned tale, to tell again, 

In slender accents of sweet verse, some tale 

That did bewitch me then, and soothes me now. 180 

O Friend ! O Poet ! brother of my soul, 

Think not that I could pass along untouched 

By these remembrances. Yet wherefore speak? 

Why call upon a few weak words to say 

What is already written in the hearts 

Of all that breathe ? what in the path of all 

Drops daily from the tongue of every child, 

Wherever man is found ? The trickling tear 

Upon the cheek of listening Infancy 

Proclaims it, and the insuperable look 190 

That drinks as if it never could be full. 

That portion of my story I shall leave 
There registered : whatever else of power 
Or pleasure sown, or fostered thus, may be 
Peculiar to myself, let that remain 
Where still it works, though hidden from all search 
Among the depths of time. Yet it is just 
That here, in memory of all books which lay 
Their sure foundations in the heart of man, 
Whether by native prose, or numerous verse, 200 

That in the name of all inspired souls 
From Homer the great Thunderer, from the voice 
That roars along the bed of Jewish song, 



86 THE PRELUDE. 

And that more varied and elaborate, 

Those trumpet-tones of harmony that shake 

Our shores in England, from those loftiest notes 

Down to the low and wren-like warblings, made 

For cottagers and spinners at the wheel, 

And sun-burnt travellers resting their tired limbs, 

Stretched under wayside hedge-rows, ballad tunes, 210 

Food for the hungry ears of little ones, 

And of old men who have survived their joys 

Tis just that in behalf of these, the works, 

And of the men that framed them, whether known 

Or sleeping nameless in their scattered graves, 

That I should here assert their rights, attest 

Their honors, and should, once for all, pronounce 

Their benediction ; speak of them as Powers 

Forever to be hallowed ; only less, 

For what we are and what we may become, 220 

Than Nature's self, which is the breath of God, 

Or His pure Word by miracle revealed. 

Rarely and with reluctance would I stoop 
To transitory themes ; yet I rejoice, 
And, by these thoughts admonished, will pour out 
Thanks with uplifted heart, that I was reared 
Safe from an evil which these days have laid 
Upon the children of the land, a pest 
That might have dried me up, body and soul. 
This verse is dedicate to Nature's self, 230 

And things that teach as Nature teaches : then, 
Oh ! where had been the Man, the Poet where, 
Where had we been, we two, beloved Friend ! 



BOOK FIFTH. 87 

If in the season of imperilous choice, 

In lieu of wandering, as we did, through vales 

Rich with indigenous produce, open ground 

Of Fancy, happy pastures ranged at will, 

We had been followed, hourly watched and noosed 

Each in his several melancholy walk 

Stringed like a poor man's heifer at its feed, 240 

Led through the lanes in forlorn servitude ; 

Or rather like a stalled ox debarred 

From touch of growing grass, that may not taste 

A flower till it have yielded up its sweets 

A prelibation to the mower's scythe. 

Behold the parent hen amid her brood, 
Though fledged and feathered, and well pleased to part 
And straggle from her presence, still a brood, 
And she herself from the maternal bond 
Still undischarged ; yet doth she little more 250 

Than move with them in tenderness and love, 
A centre to the circle which they make ; 
And now and then, alike from need of theirs 
And call of her own natural appetites, 
She scratches, ransacks up the earth for food, 
Which they partake at pleasure. Early died 
My honored Mother, she who was the heart 
And hinge of all our learnings and our loves : 
She left us destitute, and, as we might, 
Trooping together. Little suits it me 260 

To break upon the sabbath of her rest 
With any thought that looks at others' blame ; 
Nor would I praise her but in perfect love. 



88 THE PRELUDE. 

Hence am I checked : but let me boldly say, 

In gratitude, and for the sake of truth, 

Unheard by her, that she, not falsely taught, 

Fetching her goodness rather from times past 

Than shaping novelties for times to come, 

Had no presumption, no such jealousy, 

Nor did by habit of her thoughts mistrust, 270 

Our nature, but had virtual faith, that He 

Who fills the mother's breast with innocent milk 

Doth also for our nobler part provide, 

Under His great correction and control, 

As innocent instincts, and as innocent food ; 

Or draws for minds that are left free to trust 

In the simplicities of opening life 

Sweet honey out of spumed or dreaded weeds. 

This was her creed, and therefore she was pure 

From anxious fear of error or mishap, 280 

And evil, overweeningly so called ; 

Was not puffed up by false unnatural hopes, 

Nor selfish with unnecessary cares, 

Nor with impatience from the season asked 

More than its timely produce ; rather loved 

The hours for what they are, than from regard 

Glanced on their promises in restless pride. 

Such was she not from faculties more strong 

Than others have, but from the times, perhaps, 

And spot in which she lived, and through a grace 290 

Of modest meekness, simple-mindedness, 

A heart that found benignity and hope, 

Being itself benign. 

My drift 



BOOK FIFTH. 89 

Is scarcely obvious : but, that common sense 

May try this modern system by its fruits, 

Leave let me take to place before her sight 

A specimen portrayed with faithful hand. 

Full early trained to worship seemliness, 

This model of a child is never known 

To mix in quarrels ; that were far beneath 300 

Its dignity, with gifts he bubbles o'er 

As generous as a fountain ; selfishness 

May not come near him, nor the little throng 

Of flitting pleasures tempt him from his path ; 

The wandering beggars propagate his name, 

Dumb creatures find him tender as a nun, 

And natural or supernatural fear, 

Unless it leap upon him in a dream, 

Touches him not. To enhance the wonder, see 

How arch his notices, how nice his sense 310 

Of the ridiculous ; not blind is he 

To the broad follies of the licensed world, 

Yet innocent himself withal, though shrewd. 

And can read lectures upon innocence ; 

A miracle of scientific lore, 

Ships he can guide across the pathless sea, 

And tell you all their cunning ; he can read 

The inside of the earth, and spell the stars ; 

He knows the policies of foreign lands, 

Can string you names of districts, cities, towns, 320 

The whole world over, tight as beads of dew 

Upon a gossamer thread ; he sifts, he weighs, 

All things are put to question ; he must live 

Knowing that he grows wiser every day 



90 THE PRELUDE. 

Or else not live at all, and seeing too 

Each little drop of wisdom as it falls 

Into the dimpling cistern of his heart : 

For this unnatural growth the trainer blame, 

Pity the tree. Poor human vanity, 

Wert thou extinguished, little would be left 330 

Which he could truly love ; but how escape ? 

For, ever as a thought of purer birth 

Rises to lead him toward a better clime, 

Some intermeddler still is on the watch 

To drive him back, and pound him, like a stray, 

Within the pinfold of his own conceit. 

Meanwhile old grandame earth is grieved to find 

The playthings, which her love designed for him, 

Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers 

Weep, and the river sides are all forlorn. 340 

Oh ! give us once again the wishing cap 

Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat 

Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood, 

And Sabra in the forest with St. George ! 

The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap 

One precious gain, that he forgers himself. 

These mighty workmen of our later age, 
Who, with a broad highway, have overbridged 
The forward chaos of futurity, 

Tamed to their bidding ; they who have the skill 350 
To manage books, and things, and make them act 
On infant minds as surely as the sun 
Deals with a flower ; the keepers of our time, 
The guides and wardens of our faculties, 



BOOK FIFTH. 91 

Sages who in their prescience would control 

All accidents, and to the very road 

Which they have fashioned would confine us down, 

Like engines ; when will their presumption learn, 

That in the unreasoning progress of the world 

A wiser spirit is at work for us, 360 

A better eye than theirs, most prodigal 

Of blessings, and most studious of our good, 

Even in what seem our most unfruitful hours? 

There was a Boy : ye knew him well, ye cliffs 
And islands of Winander ! many a time 
At evening, when the earliest stars began 
To move along the edges of the hills, 
Rising or setting, would he stand alone 
Beneath the trees or by the glimmering lake, 
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands 370 

Pressed closely palm to palm, and to his mouth 
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument, 
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls, 
That they might answer him ; and they would shout 
Across the watery vale, and shout again, 
Responsive to his call with quivering peals, 
And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud, 
Redoubled and redoubled, concourse wild 
Of jocund din; and, when a lengthened pause 
Of silence came and baffled his best skill, 380 

Then sometimes, in that silence while he hung 
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise 
Has carried far into his heart the voice 
Of mountain torrents ; or the visible scene 



92 THE PRELUDE. 

Would enter unawares into his mind, 

With all its solemn imagery, its rocks, 

Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received 

Into the bosom of the steady lake. 

This Boy was taken from his mates, and died 
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old. 390 

Fair is the spot, most beautiful the vale, 
Where he was born ; the grassy churchyard hangs 
Upon a slope above the village school, 
And through that churchyard when my way has led 
On summer evenings, I believe that there 
A long half hour together I have stood 
Mute, looking at the grave in which he lies ! 
Even now appears before the mind's clear eye 
That self-same village church ; I see her sit 
(The throned Lady whom erewhile we hailed) 400 

On her green hill, forgetful of this Boy 
Who slumbers at her feet, forgetful too, 
Of all her silent neighborhood of graves, 
And listening only to the gladsome sounds 
That from the rural school ascending, play 
Beneath her and about her! May she long 
Behold a race of young ones like to those 
With whom I herded ! (easily, indeed, 
We might have fed upon a fatter soil 
Of arts and letters but be that forgiven) 410 

A race of real children ; not too wise, 
Too learned, or too good ; but wanton, fresh, 
And bandied up and down by love and hate ; 
Not unresentful where self-justified ; 



BOOK FIFTH. 93 

Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy ; 

Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds ; 

Though doing wrong and suffering, and full oft 

Bending beneath our life's mysterious weight 

Of pain, and doubt, and fear, yet yielding not 

In happiness to the happiest upon earth. 420 

Simplicity in habits, truth in speech, 

Be these the daily strengtheners of their minds ; 

May books and Nature be their early joy ! 

And knowledge, rightly honored with that name 

Knowledge not purchased by the loss of power ! 

Well do I call to mind the very week 
When I was first intrusted to the care 
Of that sweet Valley ; when its paths, its shores, 
And brooks were like a dream of novelty 
To my half-infant thoughts ; that very week, 430 

While I was roving up and down alone, 
Seeking I knew not what, I chanced to cross 
One of those open fields, which, shaped like ears, 
Make green peninsulas on Esthwaite's Lake : 
Twilight was coming on, yet through the gloom 
Appeared distinctly on the opposite shore 
A heap of garments, as if left by one 
Who might have there been bathing. Long I watched, 
But no one owned them ; meanwhile the calm lake 
Grew dark with all the shadows on its breast, 440 

And, now and then, a fish up-leaping snapped 
The breathless stillness. The succeeding day, 
Those unclaimed garments telling a plain tale 
Drew to the spot an anxious crowd ; some looked 



94 THE PRELUDE. 

In passive expectation from the shore, 

While from a boat others hung o'er the deep, 

Sounding with grappling irons and long poles. 

At last, the dead man, 'mid that beauteous scene 

Of trees and hills and water, bolt upright 

Rose, with his ghastly face, a spectre shape 450 

Of terror ; yet no soul-debasing fear, 

Young as I was, a child not nine years old, 

Possessed me, for my inner eye had seen 

Such sights before, among the shining streams 

Of faery land, the forest of romance. 

Their spirit hallowed the sad spectacle 

With decoration of ideal grace ; 

A dignity, a smoothness, like the works 

Of Grecian art, and purest poesy. 

A precious treasure had I long possessed, 460 

A little yellow, canvas-covered book, 
A slender abstract of the Arabian tales ; 
And, from companions in a new abode, 
When first I learnt that this dear prize of mine 
Was but a block hewn from a mighty quarry - 
That there were four large volumes, laden all 
With kindred matter, 'twas to me, in truth, 
A promise scarcely earthly. Instantly, 
With one not richer than myself, I made 
A covenant that each should lay aside 470 

The moneys he possessed, and hoard up more, 
Till our joint savings had amassed enough 
To make this book our own. Through several months, 
In spite of all temptation, we preserved 



BOOK FIFTH. 95 

Religiously that vow ; but firmness failed, 
Nor were we ever masters of our wish. 

And when thereafter to my father's house 
The holidays returned me, there to find 
That golden store of books which I had left, 
What joy was mine ! How often in the course 480 

Of those glad respites, though a soft west wind 
Ruffled the waters to the angler's wish, 
For a whole day together, have I lain 
Down by thy side, O Derwent ! murmuring stream, 
On the hot stones, and in the glaring sun, 
And there have read, devouring as I read, 
Defrauding the day's glory, desperate ! 
Till with a sudden bound of smart reproach, 
Such as an idler deals with in his shame, 
I to the sport betook myself again. 490 

A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides, 
And o'er the heart of man ; invisibly 
It comes, to works of unreproved delight, 
And tendency benign, directing those 
Who care not, know not, think not what they do. 
The tales that charm away the wakeful night 
In Araby, romances ; legends penned 
For solace by dim light of monkish lamps ; 
Fictions, for ladies of their love, devised 
By youthful squires ; adventures endless, spun 500 

By the dismantled warrior in old age, 
Out of the bowels of those very schemes 
In which his youth did first extravagate ; 



% THE PRELUDE. 

These spread like day, and something in the shape 

Of these will live till man shall be no more. 

Dumb yearnings, hidden appetites, are ours, 

And they must have their food. Our childhood sits, 

Our simple childhood, sits upon a throne 

That hath more power than all the elements. 

I guess not what this tells of Being past, 510 

Nor what it augurs of the life to come ; 

But so it is, and, in that dubious hour, 

That twilight when we first begin to see 

This dawning earth, to recognize, expect, 

And, in the long probation that ensues, 

The time of trial, ere we learn to live 

In reconcilement with our stinted powers ; 

To endure this state of meagre vassalage, 

Unwilling to forego, confess, submit, 

Uneasy and unsettled, yoke-fellows 520 

To custom, mettlesome, and not yet tamed 

And humbled down ; oh ! then we feel, we feel, 

We know where we have friends. Ye dreamers, then, 

Forgers of daring tales ! we bless you then, 

Impostors, drivellers, dotards, as the ape 

Philosophy will call you : then we feel 

With what and how great might ye are in league, 

Who make our wish, our power, our thought a deed, 

An empire, a possession, ye whom time 

And seasons serve ; all Faculties to whom 530 

Earth crouches, the elements are potter's clay, 

Space like a heaven filled up With northern lights, 

Here, nowhere, there, and everywhere at once. 



BOOK FIFTH. 97 

Relinquishing this lofty eminence 
For ground, though humbler, not the less a tract 
Of the same isthmus, which our spirits cross 
In progress from their native continent 
To earth and human life, the Song might dwell 
On that delightful time of growing youth, 
When craving for the marvellous gives way 540 

To strengthening love for things that we have seen ; 
When sober truth and steady sympathies, 
Offered to notice by less daring pens, 
Take firmer hold of us, and words themselves 
Move us with conscious pleasure. 

I am sad 

At thought of rapture now forever flown ; 
Almost to tears I sometimes could be sad 
To think of, to read over, many a page, 
Poems withal of name, which at that time 
Did never fail to entrance me, and are now 550 

Dead in my eyes, dead as a theatre 
Fresh emptied of spectators. Twice five years 
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind 
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm 
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet 
For their own sakes, a passion, and a power ; 
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight, 
For pomp, or love. Oft in the public roads 
Yet unfrequented, while the morning light 
Was yellowing the hill tops, I went abroad 560 

With a dear friend, and for the better part 
Of two delightful hours we strolled along 
By the still borders of the misty lake, 



98 THE PRELUDE. 

Repeating favorite verses with one voice, 

Or conning more, as happy as the birds 

That round us chaunted. Well might we be glad, 

Lifted above the ground by airy fancies, 

More bright than madness or the dreams of wine ; 

And, though full oft the objects of our love 

Were false, and in their splendor overwrought, 570 

Yet was there surely then no vulgar power 

Working within us, nothing less, in truth, 

Than that most noble attribute of man, 

Though yet untutored and inordinate, 

That wish for something loftier, more adorned, 

Than is the common aspect, daily garb, 

Of human life. What wonder, then, if sounds 

Of exultation echoed through the groves ! 

For images, and sentiments, and words, 

And everything encountered or pursued 580 

In that delicious world of poesy, 

Kept holiday, a never-ending show, 

With music, incense, festival, and flowers ! 

Here must we pause : this only let me add, 
From heart experience, and in humblest sense 
Of modesty, that he, who in his youth 
A daily wanderer among woods and fields 
With living Nature hath been intimate, 
Not only in that raw unpractised time 
Is stirred to ecstasy, as others are, 590 

By glittering verse ; but further, doth receive, 
In measure only dealt out to himself, 
Knowledge and increase of enduring joy 



BOOK FIFTH. 99 

From the great Nature that exists in works 

Of mighty Poets. Visionary power 

Attends the motions of the viewless winds, 

Embodied in the mystery of words : 

There, darkness makes abode, and all the host 

Of shadowy things work endless changes, there, 

As in a mansion like their proper home, 600 

Even forms and substances are circumfused 

By that transparent veil with light divine, 

And, through the turnings intricate of verse, 

Present themselves as objects recognized, 

In flashes, and with glory not their own. 



BOOK SIXTH. 



CAMBRIDGE AND THE ALPS. 

THE leaves were fading when to Esthwaite's banks 

And the simplicities of cottage life 

I bade farewell ; and, one among the youth 

Who, summoned by that season, reunite 

As scattered birds troop to the fowler's lure, 

Went back to Granta's cloisters, not so prompt 

Or eager, though as gay and undepressed 

In mind, as when I thence had taken flight 

A few short months before. I turned my face 

Without repining from the coves and heights 

Clothed in the sunshine of the withering fern ; 

Quitted, not loth, the mild magnificence 

Of calmer lakes and louder streams ; and you, 

Frank-hearted maids of rocky Cumberland, 

You and your not unwelcome days of mirth, 

Relinquished, and your nights of revelry, 

And in my own unlovely cell sate down 

In lightsome mood such privilege has youth 

That cannot take long leave of pleasant thoughts. 

The bonds of indolent society^. 
Relaxing in their hold, henceforth I lived 



BOOK SIXTH. 101 

More to myself. Two winters may be passed 

Without a separate notice : many books 

Were skimmed, devoured, or studiously perused, 

But with no settled plan. I was detached 

Internally from academic cares ; 

Yet independent study seemed a course 

Of hardy disobedience toward friends 

And kindred, proud rebellion and unkind. 

This spurious virtue, rather let it bear 30 

A name it now deserves, this cowardice, 

Gave treacherous sanction to that over-love 

Of freedom which encouraged me to turn 

From regulations even of my own 

As from restraints and bonds. Yet who can tell 

Who knows what thus may have been gained, both then 

And at a later season, or preserved ; 

What love of nature, what original strength 

Of contemplation, what intuitive truths 

The deepest and the best, what keen research, 40 

Unbiassed, unbewildered, and unawed? 

The Poet's soul was with me at that time : 
Sweet meditations, the still overflow 
Of present happiness, while future years 
Lacked not anticipations, tender dreams, 
No few of which have since been realized ; 
And some remain, hopes for my future life. 
Four years and thirty, told this very week, 
Have I been now a sojourner on earth, 
By sorrow not unsmitten ; yet for me 50 

Life's morning radiance hath not left the hills, 



102 THE PRELUDE. 

Her dew is on the flowers. Those were the days 

Which also first emboldened me to trust 

With firmness, hitherto but slightly touched 

By such a daring thought, that I might leave 

Some monument behind me which pure hearts 

Should reverence. The instinctive humbleness, 

Maintained even by the very name and thought 

Of printed books and authorship, began 

To melt away ; and further, the dread awe 60 

Of mighty names was softened down and seemed 

Approachable, admitting fellowship 

Of modest sympathy. Such aspect now, 

Though not familiarly, my mind put on, 

Content to observe, to achieve, and to enjoy. 

All winter long, whenever free to choose, 
Did I by night frequent the College grove 
And tributary walks ; the last, and oft 
The only one, who had been lingering there 
Through hours of silence, till the porter's bell, 70 

A punctual follower on the stroke of nine, 
Rang with its blunt unceremonious voice, 
Inexorable summons ! Lofty elms, 
Inviting shades or opportune recess, 
Bestowed composure on a neighborhood 
Unpeaceful in itself. A single tree 
With sinuous trunk, boughs exquisitely wreathed, 
Grew there ; an ash which W T inter for himself 
Decked out with pride, and with outlandish grace : 
Up from the ground, and almost to the top, 80 

The trunk and every master branch were green 



BOOK SIXTH. 103 

With clustering ivy, and the lightsome twigs 

And outer spray profusely tipped with seeds 

That hung in yellow tassels, while the air 

Stirred them, not voiceless. Often have I stood 

Foot-bound uplooking at this lovely tree 

Beneath a frosty moon. The hemisphere 

Of magic fiction, verse of mine perchance 

May never tread ; but scarcely Spenser's self 

Could have more tranquil visions in his youth, 90 

Or could more bright appearances create 

Of human forms with superhuman powers, 

Than I beheld loitering on calm clear nights 

Alone, beneath this fairy work of earth. 

V 

On the vague reading of a truant youth 
'Twere idle to descant. My inner judgment 
Not seldom differed from my taste in books, 
As if it appertained to another mind, 
And yet the books which then I valued most 
Are dearest to me now ; for, having scanned, 100 

Not heedlessly, the laws, and watched the forms 
Of Nature, in that knowledge I possessed 
A standard, often usefully applied, 
Even when unconsciously, to things removed 
From a familiar sympathy. In fine, 
I was a better judge of thoughts than words, 
Misled in estimating words, not only 
By common inexperience of youth, 
But by the trade in classic niceties, 
The dangerous craft of culling term and phrase no 

From languages that want the living voice 



104 THE PRELUDE. 

To carry meaning to the natural heart ; 
To tell us what is passion, what is truth, 
What reason, with simplicity and sense. 

Yet may we not entirely overlook 
The pleasure gathered from the rudiments 
Of geometric science. Though advanced 
In these inquiries, with regret I speak, 
No farther than the threshold, there I found 
Both elevation and composed delight : 120 

With Indian awe and wonder, ignorance pleased 
With its own struggles, did I meditate 
On the relation those abstractions bear 
To Nature's laws, and by what process led, 
Those immaterial agents bowed their heads 
Duly to serve the mind of earth-born man ; 
From star to star, from kindred sphere to sphere, 
From system on to system without end. 

More frequently from the same source I drew 
A pleasure quiet and profound, a sense 130 

Of permanent and universal sway, 
And paramount belief: there, recognized 
A type, for finite natures, of the one 
Supreme Existence, the surpassing life 
Which to the boundaries of space and time, 
Of melancholy space and doleful time, 
Superior and incapable of change, 
Nor touched by welterings of passion is, 
And hath the name of, God. Transcendent peace 
And silence did await upon these thoughts 140 

That were a frequent comfort to my youth. 



BOOK SIXTH. 105 

"Tis told by one whom stormy waters threw, 
With fellow-sufferers by the shipwreck spared, 
Upon a desert coast, that having brought 
To land a single volume, saved by chance, 
A treatise of Geometry, he wont, 
Although of food and clothing destitute, 
And beyond common wretchedness depressed, 
To part from company and take this book 
(Then first a self-taught pupil in its truths) 15 

To spots remote, and draw his diagrams 
With a long staff upon the sand, and thus 
Did oft beguile his sorrow, and almost 
Forget his feeling : so (if like effect 
From the same cause produced, 'mid outward things 
So different, may rightly be compared), 
So was it then with me, and so will be 
With Poets ever. Mighty is the charm 
Of those abstractions to a mind beset 
With images and haunted by herself, 160 

And specially delightful unto me 
Was that clear 'synthesis built up aloft 
So gracefully ; even then when it appeared 
Not more than a mere plaything, or a toy 
To sense embodied : not the thing it is 
In verity, an independent world, 
Created out of pure intelligence. 

Such dispositions then were mine unearned 
By aught, I fear, of genuine desert 
Mine, through heaven's grace and inborn aptitudes. 17 
And not to leave the story of that time 



106 THE PRELUDE. 

Imperfect, with these habits must be joined 

Moods melancholy, fits of spleen, that loved 

A pensive sky, sad days, and piping winds, 

The twilight more than dawn, autumn than spring ; 

A treasured and luxurious gloom of choice 

And inclination mainly, and the mere 

Redundancy of youth's contentedness. 

To time thus spent, add multitudes of hours 

Pilfered away, by what the Bard who sang 180 

Of the Enchanter Indolence hath called 

" Good-natured lounging," and behold a map 

Of my collegiate life far less intense 

Than duty called for, or, without regard 

To duty, might have sprung up of itself 

By change of accidents, or even, to speak 

Without unkindness, in another place. 

Yet why take refuge in that plea ? the fault 

This I repeat, was mine ; mine be the blame. 

In summer, making quest for works of art, 190 

Or scenes renowned for beauty, I explored 
That streamlet whose blue current works its way 
Beneath romantic Dovedale's spiry rocks ; 
Pried into Yorkshire dales, or hidden tracts 
Of my own native region, and was blest 
Between these sundry wanderings with a joy 
Above all joys, that seemed another morn 
Risen on mid noon ; blest with the presence, Friend ! 
Of that sole Sister, her who hath been long 
Dear to thee also, thy true friend and mine, 200 

Now, after separation desolate, 



BOOK SIXTH. 107 

Restored to me such absence that she seemed 

A gift then first bestowed. The varied banks 

Of Emont, hitherto unnamed in song, 

And that monastic castle, 'mid tall trees, 

Low standing by the margin of the stream, 

A mansion visited (as fame reports) 

By Sidney, where, in sight of our Helvellyn, 

Or stormy Cross-fell, snatches he might pen 

Of his Arcadia, by fraternal love 210 

Inspired ; that river and those mouldering towers 

Have seen us side by side, when, having clomb 

The darksome windings of a broken stair, 

And crept along a ridge of fractured wall, 

Not without trembling, we in safety looked 

Forth, through some Gothic window's open space, 

And gathered with one mind a rich reward 

From the far-stretching landscape, by the light 

Of morning beautified, or purple eve ; 

Or, not less pleased, lay on some turret's head, 220 

Catching from tufts of grass and hare-bell flowers 

Their faintest whisper to the passing breeze, 

Given out while mid-day heat oppressed the plains. 

Another maid there was, who also shed 
A gladness o'er that season, then to me, 
By her exulting outside look of youth 
And placid under-countenance, first endeared ; 
That other spirit, Coleridge ! who is now 
So near to us, that meek confiding heart, 
So reverenced by us both. O'er paths and fields 230 
In all that neighborhood, through narrow lanes 



108 THE PRELUDE. 

Of eglantine, and through the shady woods, 

And o'er the Border Beacon, and the waste 

Of naked pools, and common crags that lay 

Exposed on the bare fell, were scattered love, 

The spirit of pleasure, and youth's golden gleam. 

O Friend ! we had not seen thee at that time, 

And yet a power is on me, and a strong 

Confusion, and I seem to plant thee there. 

Far art thou wandered now in search of health 240 

And milder breezes, melancholy lot ! 

But thou art with us, with us in the past, 

The present, with us in the times to come. 

There is no grief, no sorrow, no despair, 

No languor, no dejection, no dismay, 

No absence scarcely can there be, for those 

Who love as we do. Speed thee well ! divide 

With us thy pleasure ; thy returning strength, 

Receive it daily as a joy of ours ; 

Share with us thy fresh spirits, whether gift 250 

Of gales Etesian or of tender thoughts. 

I, too, have been a wanderer ; buty alas ! 
How different the fate of different men. 
Though mutually unknown, yea, nursed and reared 
As if in several elements, we were framed 
To bend at last to the same discipline, 
Predestined, if two beings ever were, 
To seek the same delights, and have one health, 
One happiness. Throughout this narrative, 
Else sooner ended, I have borne in mind 260 

For whom it registers the birth, and marks the growth, 



BOOK SIXTH. 109 

Of gentleness, simplicity, and truth, 

And joyous loves, that hallow innocent days 

Of peace and self-command. Of rivers, fields, 

And groves I speak to thee, my Friend ! to thee, 

Who, yet a liveried schoolboy, in the depths 

Of the huge city, on the leaded roof 

'Of that wide edifice, thy school and home, 

Wert used to lie and gaze upon the clouds 

Moving in heaven ; or, of that pleasure tired, 270 

To shut thine eyes, and by internal light 

See trees, and meadows, and thy native stream, 

Far distant, thus beheld from year to year 

Of a long exile. Nor could I forget, 

In this late portion of my argument, 

That scarcely, as my term of pupilage 

Ceased, had I left those academic bowers 

When thou wert thither guided. From the heart 

Of London, and from cloisters there, thou earnest, 

And didst sit down in temperance and peace, 280 

A rigorous student. What a stormy course 

Then followed. Oh ! it is a pang that calls 

For utterance, to think what easy change 

Of circumstances might to thee have spared 

A world of pain, ripened a thousand hopes, 

Forever withered. Through this retrospect 

Of my collegiate life I still have had, 

Thy after-sojourn in the self-same place 

Present before my eyes, have played with times 

And accidents as children do with cards, 290 

Or as a man, who, when his house is built, 

A frame locked up in wood and stone, doth still, 



110- THE PRELUDE. 

As impotent fancy prompts, by his fireside, 

Rebuild it to his liking. I have thought 

Of thee, thy learning, gorgeous eloquence, 

And all the strength and plumage of thy youth, 

Thy subtle speculations, toils abstruse 

Among the schoolmen, and Platonic forms 

Of wild ideal pageantry, shaped out 

From things well-matched or ill, and words for things, 

The self-created sustenance of a mind 301 

Debarred from Nature's living images, 

Compelled to be a life unto herself, 

And unrelentingly possessed by thirst 

Of greatness, love, and beauty. Not alone, 

Ah ! surely not in singleness of heart 

Should I have seen the light of evening fade 

From smooth Cam's silent waters : had we met, 

Even at that early time, needs must I trust 

In the belief that my maturer age, 310 

My calmer habits, and more steady voice, 

Would with an influence benign have soothed, 

Or chased away, the airy wretchedness 

That battened on thy youth. But thou hast trod 

A march of glory, which doth put to shame 

These vain regrets ; health suffers in thee, else 

Such grief for thee would be the weakest thought 

That ever harbored in the breast of man. 

A passing word erewhile did lightly touch 
On wanderings of my own, that now embraced 320 

With livelier hope a region wider far. 



BOOK SIXTH. Ill 

When the third summer freed us from restraint, 
A youthful friend, he too a mountaineer, 
Not slow to share my wishes, took his staff, 
And sallying forth, we journeyed side by side, 
Bound to the distant Alps. A hardy slight 
Did this unprecedented course imply 
Of college studies and their set rewards ; 
Nor had, in truth, the scheme been formed by me 
Without uneasy forethought of the pain, 330 

The censures, and ill-omening of those 
To whom my worldly interests were dear. 
But Nature then was sovereign in my mind, 
And mighty forms, seizing a youthful fancy, 
Had given a charter to irregular hopes. 
In any age of uneventful calm 
Among the nations, surely would my heart 
Have been possessed by similar desire ; 
But Europe at that time was thrilled with joy, 
France standing on the top of golden hours, 340 

And human nature seeming born again. 

Lightly equipped, and but a few brief looks 
Cast on the white cliffs of our native shore 
From the receding vessel's deck, we chanced 
To land at Calais on the very eve 
Of that great federal day, and there we saw, 
In a mean city, and among a few, 
How bright a face is worn when joy of one 
Is joy for tens of millions. Southward thence 
We held our way, direct through hamlets, towns, 350 
Gaudy with reliques of that festival, 



112 THE PRELUDE. 

Flowers left to wither on triumphal arcs, 

And window-garlands. On the public roads, 

And, once, three days successively, through paths 

By which our toilsome journey was abridged, 

Among sequestered villages we walked 

And found benevolence and blessedness 

Spread like a fragrance everywhere, when spring 

Hath left no corner of the land untouched ; 

Where elms for many and many a league in files, s6c 

With their thin umbrage, on the stately roads 

Of that great kingdom, rustled o'er our heads, 

Forever near us as we paced along : 

How sweet at such a time, with such delight 

On every side, in prime of youthful strength, 

To feed a Poet's tender melancholy 

And fond conceit of sadness, with the sound 

Of undulations varying as might please 

The wind that swayed them ; once, and more than once. 

Unhoused beneath the evening star we saw 37c 

Dances of liberty, and in late hours 

Of darkness, dances in the open air 

Deftly prolonged, though gray-haired lookers on 

Might waste their breath in chiding. 

Under hills 

The vine-clad hills and slopes of Burgundy, 
Upon the bosom of the gentle Saone 
We glided forward with the flowing stream. 
Swift Rhone ! thou wert the wings on which we cut 
A winding passage with majestic ease 
Between thy lofty rocks. Enchanting show 380 

Those woods and farms, and orchards did present, 



BOOK SIXTH. 113 

And single cottages and lurking towns, 

Reach after reach, succession without end 

Of deep and stately vales ! A lonely pair 
; Of strangers, till day closed, we sailed along 

Clustered together with a merry crowd 

Of those emancipated, a blithe host 

Of travellers, chiefly delegates, returning 

From the great spousals newly solemnized 

At their chief city, in the sight of Heaven. 390 

Like bees they swarmed, gaudy and gay as bees ; 

Some vapored in the unruliness of joy, 

And with their swords flourished as if to fight 

The saucy air. In this proud company 

We landed took with them our evening meal, 

Guests welcome almost as the angels were 

To Abraham of old. The supper done, 

With flowing cups elate and happy thoughts 

We rose at signal given, and formed a ring 

And, hand in hand, danced round and round the board ; 
i All hearts were open, every tongue was loud 401 

With amity and glee ; we bore a name 

Honored in France, the name of Englishmen, 

And hospitably did they give us hail, 
; As their forerunners in a glorious course ; 
And round and round the board we danced again. ' 

With these blithe friends our voyage we renewed 

At early dawn. The monastery bells 

Made a sweet jingling in our youthful ears ; v*Vt.svwJt 

The rapid river flowing without noise, 410 

And each uprising or receding spire 

Spake with a sense of peace, at intervals 



THE PRELUDE. 

Touching the heart amid the boisterous crew 

By whom we were encompassed. Taking leave 

Of this glad throng, foot-travellers side by side, 

Measuring our steps in quiet, we pursued 

Our journey, and ere twice the sun had set 

Beheld the Convent of Chartreuse, and there 

Rested within an awful solitude. 

Yes ; for even then no other than a place 420 

Of soul-affecting solitude appeared 

That far-famed region, though our eyes had seen, 

As toward the sacred mansion we advanced, 

Anns flashing, and a military glare 

Of riotous men commissioned to expel 

The blameless inmates, and belike subvert 

The frame of social being, which so long 

Had bodied forth the ghostliness of things 

In silence visible and perpetual calm. 

" Stay, stay your sacrilegious hands ! " The voice 

Was Nature's, uttered from her Alpine throne ; 431 

I heard it then and seem to hear it now 

" Your impious work forbear : perish what may, 

Let this one temple last, be this one spot 

Of earth devoted to eternity ! " 

She ceased to speak, but while St. Bruno's pines 

Waved their dark tops, not silent as they waved, 

And while below, along their several beds, 

Murmured the sister streams of Life and Death, 

Thus by conflicting passions pressed, my heart 440 

Responded : " Honor to the patriot's zeal ! 

Glory and hope to new-born Liberty ! 

Hail to the mighty projects of the time ! 



BOOK SIXTH. 115 

Discerning sword that Justice wields, do thou 

Go forth and prosper ; and, ye purging fires, 

Up to the loftiest towers of Pride ascend, 

Fanned by the breath of angry Providence. 

But oh ! if Past and Future be the wings 

On whose support harmoniously conjoined 

Moves the great spirit of human knowledge, spare 450^ 

These courts of mystery, where a step advanced 

Between the portals of the shadowy rocks 

Leaves far behind Life's treacherous vanities, 

For penitential tears and trembling hopes 

Exchanged to equalize in God's pure sight 

Monarch and peasant ; be the house redeemed 

With its unworldly votaries, for the sake 

Of conquest over sense, hourly achieved 

Through faith and meditative reason, resting 

Upon the word of heaven-imparted truth, 460 

Calmly triumphant ; and for humbler claim 

Of that imaginative impulse sent 

From these majestic floods, yon shining cliffs, 

The untransmuted shapes of many worlds, 

Cerulean ether's pure inhabitants, 

These forests unapproachable by death, 

That shall endure as long as man endures, 

To think, to hope, to worship, and to feel, 

To struggle, to be lost within himself 

In trepidation, from the blank abyss 470 

To look with bodily eyes, and be consoled." 

Not seldom since that moment have I wished 

That thou, O Friend ! the trouble or the calm 

Hadst shared, when, from profane regards apart, 



116 THE PRELUDE. 

In sympathetic reverence we trod 

The floors of those dim cloisters, till that hour, 

From their foundation, strangers to the presence 

Of unrestricted and unthinking man. 

Abroad how cheeringly the sunshine lay 

Upon the open lawns ! Vallombre's groves 480 

Entering, we fed the soul with darkness ; thence 

Issued, and with uplifted eyes beheld, 

In different quarters of the bending sky, 

The cross of Jesus stand erect, as if 

Hands of angelic powers had fixed it there, 

Memorial reverenced by a thousand storms ; 

Yet then, from the undiscriminating sweep 

And rage of one State- whirlwind, insecure. 

'Tis not my present purpose to retrace 
That variegated journey step by step. 490 

A march it was of military speed, 
And Earth did change her images and forms 
Before us, fast as clouds are changed in heaven 
Day after day, up early and down late, 
From hill to vale we dropped, from vale to hill 
Mounted from province on to province swept, 
Keen hunters in a chase of fourteen weeks, 
Eager as birds of prey, or as a ship 
Upon the stretch, when winds are blowing fair : 
Sweet coverts did we cross of pastoral life, 500 

Enticing valleys, greeted them and left 
Too soon, while yet the very flash and gleam 
Of salutation were not passed away. 
Oh ! sorrow for the youth who could have seen 



BOOK SIXTH. 117 

Unchastened, unsubdued, unawed, unraised 

To patriarchal dignity of mind, 

And pure simplicity of wish and will, 

Those sanctified abodes of peaceful man, 

Pleased (though to hardship born, and compassed round 

With danger, varying as the seasons change) 510 

Pleased with his daily task, or, if not pleased, 

Contented, from the moment that the dawn 

(Ah ! surely not without attendant gleams 

Of soul- illumination) calls him forth 

To industry, by glistenings flung on rocks, 

Whose evening shadows lead him to repose. 

Well might a stranger look with bounding heart 
Down on a green recess, the first I saw 
Of those deep haunts, an aboriginal vale, 
Quiet and lorded over and possessed 520 

By naked huts, wood-built, and sown like tents 
Or Indian cabins over the fresh lawns 
And by the river side. 

That very day 

From a bare ridge we also first beheld 
Unveiled the summit of Mont Blanc, and grieved 
To have a soulless image on the eye 
That had usurped upon a living thought 
That never more could be. The wondrous Vale 
Of Chamouny stretched far below, and soon 
With its dumb cataracts and streams of ice, 530 

A motionless array of mighty waves, 
Five rivers broad and vast, made rich amends, 
And reconciled us to realities ; 



118 THE PRELUDE. 

There small birds warble from the leafy trees, 

The eagle soars high in the element, 

There doth the reaper bind the yellow sheaf, 

The maiden spread the haycock in the sun, 

While Winter, like a well- tamed lion walks, 

Descending from the mountain to make sport 

Among the cottages by beds of flowers. 540 

Whate'er in this wide circuit we beheld, 
Or heard, was fitted to our unripe state 
Of intellect and heart. With such a book 
Before our eyes, we could not choose but read 
Lessons of genuine brotherhood, the plain 
And universal reason of mankind, 
The truths of young and old. Nor, side by side 
Pacing, two social pilgrims, or alone 
Each with his humor, could we fail to abound 
In dreams and fictions, pensively composed : 550 

Dejection taken up for pleasure's sake, 
And gilded sympathies, the willow wreath, 
And sober posies of funereal flowers, 
Gathered among those solitudes sublime 
From formal gardens of the lady Sorrow, 
Did sweeten many a meditative hour. 

Yet still in me with those soft luxuries 
Mixed something of stern mood, an underthirst 
Of vigor seldom utterly allayed : 

And from that source how different a sadness 560 

Would issue, let one incident make known. 



BOOK SIXTH. 119 

When from the Vallais we had turned, and clomb 

Along the Simplon's steep and rugged road, 

Following a band of muleteers, we reached 

A halting-place, where all together took 

Their noon-tide meal. Hastily rose our guide, 

Leaving us at the board ; awhile we lingered, 

Then paced the beaten downward way that led 

Right to a rough stream's edge, and there broke off; 

The only track now visible was one 570 

That from the torrent's further brink held forth 

Conspicuous invitation to ascend 

A lofty mountain. After brief delay 

Crossing the unbridged stream, that road we took, 

And clomb with eagerness, till anxious fears 

Intruded, for we failed to overtake 

Our comrades gone before. By fortunate chance, 

While every moment added doubt to doubt, 

A peasant met us, from whose mouth we learned 

That to the spot which had perplexed us first, 580 

We must descend, and there should find the road, 

Which in the stony channel of the stream 

Lay a few steps, and then along its banks : 

And that our future course, all plain to sight, 

Was downwards, with the current of that stream. 

Loth to believe what we so grieved to hear, 

For still we had hopes that pointed to the clouds, 

We questioned him again, and yet again ; 

But every word that from the peasant's lips 

Came in reply, translated by our feelings, 590 

Ended in this, that we had crossed the Alps. 



120 THE PRELUDE. 

Imagination here the Power so-called 
Through sad incompetence of human speech, 
That awful Power rose from the mind's abyss 
Like an unfathered vapor that enwraps, 
At once, some lonely traveller. I was lost ; 
Halted without an effort to break through ; 
But to my conscious soul I now can say 
" I recognize thy glory ; " in such strength 
Of usurpation, when the light of sense 600 

Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed 
The invisible world, doth greatness make abode, 
There harbors ; whether we be young or old, 
Our destiny, our being's heart and home, 
Is with infinitude, and only there ; 
With hope it is, hope that can never die, 
Effort, and expectation, and desire, 
And something evermore about to be. 
Under such banners militant, the soul 
Seeks for no trophies, struggles for no spoils 610 

That may attest her prowess, blest in thoughts 
That are their own perfection and reward, 
Strong in herself and in beatitude 
That hides her, like the mighty flood of Nile 
Poured from his fount of Abyssinian clouds 
To fertilize the whole Egyptian plain. 

The melancholy slackening that ensued 
Upon those tidings by the peasant given 
Was soon dislodged. Downwards we hurried fast, 
And, with the half-shaped road which we had missed, 
Entered a narrow chasm. The brook and road 621 



BOOK SIXTH. 121 

Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy strait, 

And with them did we journey several hours 

At a slow pace. The immeasurable height 

Of woods decaying, never to be decayed, 

The stationary blasts of waterfalls^ 

And in the narrow rent at every turn 

Winds thwarting winds, bewildered and forlorn, 

The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky, 

The rocks that muttered close upon our ears, 630 

Black drizzling crags that spake by the wayside 

As if a voice were in them, the sick sight 

And giddy prospect of the raving stream, 

The unfettered clouds and region of the Heavens, 

Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light 

Were all like workings of one mind, the features 

Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree ; 

Characters of the great Apocalypse, 

The types and symbols of Eternity, 

Of first, and last, and midst, and without end. 640 

That night our lodging was a house that stood 
Alone within the valley, at a point 
Where, tumbling from aloft, a torrent swelled 
The rapid stream whose margin we had trod ; 
A dreary mansion, large beyond all need, 
With high and spacious rooms, deafened and stunned 
By noise of waters, making innocent sleep 
Lie melancholy among weary bones. 

Uprisen betimes, our journey we renewed, 
Led by the stream, ere noon-day magnified 650 



122 THE PRELUDE. 

Into a lordly river, broad and deep, 

Dimpling along in silent majesty, 

With mountains for its neighbors, and in view 

Of distant mountains and their snowy tops, 

And thus proceeding to Locarno's Lake, 

Fit resting-place for such a visitant. 

Locarno ! spreading out in width like Heaven, 

How dost thou cleave to the poetic heart, 

Bask in the sunshine of the memory ; 

And Como ! thou, a treasure whom the earth 660 

Keeps to herself, confined as in a depth 

Of Abyssinian privacy. I spake 

Of thee, thy chestnut woods, and garden plots 

Of Indian corn tended by dark-eyed maids ; 

Thy lofty steeps, and pathways roofed with vines, 

Winding from house to house, from town to town, 

Sole link that binds them to each other ; walks, 

League after league, and cloistral avenues, 

Where silence dwells if music be not there : 

While yet a youth undisciplined in verse, 670 

Through fond ambition of that hour I strove 

To chant your praise ; nor can approach you now 

Ungreeted by a more melodious Song, 

Where tones of Nature smoothed by learned Art 

May flow in lasting current. Like a breeze 

Or sunbeam over your domain I passed 

In motion without pause ; but ye have left 

Your beauty with me, a serene accord 

Of forms and colors, passive, yet endowed 

In their submissiveness with power as sweet 680 

And gracious, almost might I dare to say, 



BOOK SIXTH. 123 

As virtue is, or goodness ; sweet as love, 
Or the remembrance of a generous deed, 
Or mildest visitations of pure thought, 
When God, the giver of all joy, is thanked 
Religiously, in silent blessedness ; 
Sweet as this last herself, for such it is. 

With those delightful pathways we advanced, 
For two days' space, in presence of the Lake, 
That, stretching far among the Alps, assumed 690 

A character more stern. The second night, 
From sleep awakened, and misled by sound 
Of the church clock telling the hours with strokes 
Whose import then we had not learned, we rose 
By moonlight, doubting not that day was nigh, 
And that meanwhile by no uncertain path, 
Along the winding margin of the lake, 
Led, as before, we should behold the scene 
Hushed in profound repose. We left the town 
Of Gravedona with this hope ; but soon 700 

Were lost, bewildered among woods immense, 
And on a rock sate down, to wait for day. 
An open place it was, and overlooked, 
From high, the sullen water far beneath, 
On which a dull red image of the moon 
Lay bedded, changing oftentimes its form 
Like an uneasy snake. From hour to hour 
We sate and sate, wondering, as if the night 
Had been ensnared by witchcraft. On the rock 
At last we stretched our weary limbs for sleep, 710 

But could not sleep, tormented by the stings 



124 THE PRELUDE. 

Of insects, which, with noise like that of noon, 

Filled all the woods : the cry of unknown birds ; 

The mountains more by blackness visible 

And their own size, than any outward light ; 

The breathless wilderness of clouds ; the clock 

That told with unintelligible voice, 

The widely parted hours ; the noise of streams, 

And sometimes rustling motions nigh at hand, 

That did not leave us free from personal fear ; 720 

And, lastly, the withdrawing moon, that set 

Before us, while she still was high in heaven ; 

These were our food ; and such a summer's night 

Followed that pair of golden days that shed 

On Como's Lake, and all that round it lay, 

Their fairest, softest, happiest influence. 

But here I must break off, and bid farewell 
To days, each offering some new sight, or fraught 
With some untried adventure, in a course 
Prolonged till sprinklings of autumnal snow 730 

Checked our unwearied steps. Let this alone 
Be mentioned as a parting word, that not 
In hollow exultation, dealing out 
Hyperboles" of praise comparative; 
Not rich one moment to be poor forever ; 
Not prostrate, overborne, as if the mind 
Herself were nothing, a mere pensioner 
On outward forms did we in presence stand 
Of that magnificent region. On the front 
Of this whole Song is written that my heart 74 

Must, in such Temple, needs have offered up 



BOOK SIXTH. 125 

A different worship. Finally, whate'er 

I saw, or heard, or felt, was but a stream 

That flowed into a kindred stream ; a gale, 

Confederate with the current of the soul, 

To speed my voyage ; every sound or sight, 

In its degree of power, administered 

To grandeur or to tenderness, to the one 

Directly, but to tender thoughts by means 

Less often instantaneous in effect ; 75 

Led me to these by paths that, in the main, 

Were more circuitous, but not less sure 

Duly to reach the point marked out by Heaven. 

Oh, most beloved Friend ! a glorious time, 
A happy time that was ; triumphant looks 
Were then the common language of all eyes ; 
As if awaked from sleep, the Nations hailed 
Their great expectancy : the fife of war 
Was then a spirit-stirring sound indeed, 
A blackbird's whistle in a budding grove. 760 

We left the Swiss exulting in the fate 
Of their near neighbors ; and, when shortening fast 
Our pilgrimage, nor distant far from home, 
We crossed the Brabant armies on the fret 
For battle in the cause of Liberty. 
A stripling, scarcely of the household then 
Of social life, I looked upon these things 
As from a distance ; heard, and saw, and felt, 
Was touched, but with no intimate concern ; 
I seemed to move along them, as a bird 770 

Moves through the air, or as a fish pursues 



126 THE PRELUDE. 

Its sport, or feeds in its proper element ; 

I wanted not that joy, I did not need 

Such help ; the ever-living universe, 

Turn where I might, was opening out its glories, 

And the independent spirit of pure youth 

Called forth, at every season, new delights 

Spread round my steps like sunshine o'er green fields. 



BOOK SEVENTH. 



RESIDENCE IN LONDON. 

Six changeful years have vanished since I first 

Poured out (saluted by that quickening breeze 

Which met me issuing from the City's walls) 

A glad preamble to this Verse : I sang 

Aloud, with fervor irresistible 

Of short-lived transport, like a torrent bursting, 

From a black thunder- cloud, down Scafell's side 

To rush and disappear. But soon broke forth 

(So willed the Muse) a less impetuous stream, 

That flowed awhile with unabating strength, 10 

Then stopped for years ; not audible again 

Before last primrose-time. Beloved Friend ! 

The assurance which then cheered some heavy thoughts 

On thy departure to a foreign land 

Has failed ; too slowly moves the promised work, 

Through the whole summer have I been at rest, 

Partly from voluntary holiday, 

And part through outward hindrance. But I heard, 

After the hour of sunset yester-even, 

Sitting within doors between light and dark, 20 

A choir of red-breasts gathered somewhere near 



128 THE PRELUDE. 

My threshold, minstrels from the distant woods 

Sent in on Winter's service, to announce, 

With preparation artful and benign, 

That the rough lord had left the surly North 

On his accustomed journey. The delight, 

Due to his timely notice, unawares 

Smote me, and, listening, I in whispers said, 

"Ye heartsome Choristers, ye and I will be 

Associates, and, unscared by blustering winds, 30 

Will chant together." Thereafter, as the shades 

Of twilight deepened, going forth, I spied 

A glow-worm underneath a dusky plume 

Or canopy of yet unwithered fern, 

Clear-shining, like a hermit's taper seen 

Through a thick forest. Silence touched me here 

No less than sound had done before ; the child 

Of Summer, lingering, shining, by herself, 

The voiceless worm on the unfrequented hills, 

Seemed sent on the same errand with the choir 40 

Of Winter that had warbled at my door, 

And the whole year breathed tenderness and love. 

The last night's genial feeling overflowed 
Upon this morning, and my favorite grove, 
Tossing in sunshine its dark bough aloft, 
As if to make the strong wind visible, 
Wakes in me agitations like its own, 
A spirit friendly to the Poet's task, 
Which we will now resume with lively hope, 
Nor checked by aught of tamer argument 50 

That lies before us, needful to be told. 



BOOK SEVENTH, 129 

Returned from that excursion, soon I bade 
Farewell forever to the sheltered seats 
Of gowned students, quitted hall and bower, 
And every comfort of that privileged ground, 
Well pleased to pitch a vagrant tent among 
The unfenced regions of society. 

Yet, undetermined to what course of life 
I should adhere, and seeming to possess 
A little space of intermediate time 60 

At full command, to London first I turned 
In no disturbance of excessive hope, 
By personal ambition unenslaved, 
Frugal as there was need, and, though self-willed, 
From dangerous passions free. Three years had flown 
Since I had felt in heart and soul the shock 
Of the huge town's first presence, and had paced 
Her endless streets, a transient visitant : 
Now, fixed amid that concourse of mankind 
Where Pleasure whirls about incessantly, 70 

And life and labor seem but one, I filled 
An idler's place ; an idler well content 
To have a house (what matter for a home ?) 
That owned him ; living cheerfully abroad 
With unchecked fancy ever on the stir, 
And all my young affections out of doors. 

There was a time when whatsoe'er is feigned 
Of airy palaces, and gardens built 
By Genii of romance : or hath in grave 
Authentic history been set forth of Rome, 80 



130 THE PRELUDE. 

Alcairo, Babylon, or Persepolis ; 

Or given upon report by pilgrim friars, 

Of golden cities ten months' journey deep 

Among Tartarian wilds fell short, far short, 

Of what my fond simplicity believed 

And thought of London held me by a chain 

Less strong of wonder and obscure delight. 

Whether the bolt of childhood's Fancy shot 

For me beyond its ordinary mark, 

'Twere vain to ask ; but in our flock of boys 90 

Was One, a cripple from his birth, whom chance 

Summoned from school to London ; fortunate 

And envied traveller ! When the Boy returned, 

After short absence, curiously I scanned 

His mien and person, nor was free, in sooth, 

From disappointment, not to find some change 

In look and air, from that new region brought, 

As if from Fairy-land. Much I questioned him ; 

And every word he uttered, on my ears 

Fell flatter than a caged parrot's note, 100 

That answers unexpectedly awry, 

And mocks the prompter's listening. Marvellous things 

Had vanity (quick Spirit that appears 

Almost as deeply seated and as strong 

In a Child's heart as fear itself) conceived 

For my enjoyment. Would that I could now 

Recall what then I pictured to myself, 

Of mitred Prelates, Lords in ermine clad, 

The King, and the King's Palace, and, not last, 

Nor least, Heaven bless him ! the renowned Lord Mayor : 

Dreams not unlike to those which once begat in 



BOOK SEVENTH. 131 

A change of purpose in young Whittington, 
When he, a friendless and a drooping boy, 
Sate on a stone, and heard the bells speak out 
Articulate music. Above all, one thought 
Baffled my understanding : how men lived 
Even next-door neighbors, as we say, yet still 
Strangers, not knowing each the other's name. 

O, wondrous power of words, by simple faith 
Licensed to take the meaning that we love ! 120 

Vauxhall and Ranelagh ! I then had heard 
Of your green groves, and wilderness of lamps 
Dimming the stars, and fireworks magical, 
And gorgeous ladies, under splendid domes, 
Floating in dance, or warbling high in air 
The songs of spirits ! Nor had Fancy fed 
With less delight upon that other class 
Of marvels, broad-day wonders permanent : 
The River proudly bridged ; the dizzy top 
And Whispering Gallery of St. Paul's ; the tombs 130 
Of Westminster : the Giants of Guildhall ; 
Bedlam, and those carved maniacs at the gates, 
Perpetually recumbent ; Statues man, 
And the horse under him in gilded pomp 
Adorning flowery gardens, 'mid vast squares ; 
The Monument, and that Chamber of the Tower 
Where England's sovereigns sit in long array, 
Their steeds bestriding, every mimic shape 
Cased in the gleaming mail the monarch wore, 
Whether for gorgeous tournament addressed, 140 

Or life or death upon the battle-field. 



132 THE PRELUDE. 

Those bold imaginations in due time 

Had vanished, leaving others in their stead : 

And now I looked upon the living scene ; 

Familiarly perused it ; oftentimes, 

In spite of strongest disappointment, pleased 

Through courteous self-submission, as a tax 

Paid to the object by prescriptive right. 

Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain 
Of a too busy world ! Before me flow, 150 

Thou endless stream of men and moving things ! 
Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes 
With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe 
On strangers, of all ages ; the quick dance 
Of colors, lights, and forms ; the deafening din ; 
The comers and the goers face to face, 
Face after face ; the string of dazzling wares, 
Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names, 
And all the tradesman's honors overhead : 
Here, fronts of houses, like a title-page, 160 

With letters huge inscribed from top to toe, 
Stationed above the door, like guardian saints ; 
There, allegoric shapes, female or male, 
Or physiognomies of real men, 
Land-warriors, kings, or admirals of the sea, 
Boyle, Shakespeare, Newton, or the attractive head 
Of some quack-doctor, famous in his day. 

Meanwhile the roar continues, till at length, 
Escaped as from an enemy, we turn 
Abruptly into some sequestered nook, 170 



BOOK SEVENTH. 133 

Still as a sheltered place when winds blow loud ! 

At leisure, thence, through tracts of thin resort, 

And sights and sounds that come at intervals, 

We take our way. A raree-show is here, 

With children gathered round ; another street 

Presents a company of dancing dogs, 

Or dromedary, with an antic pair 

Of monkeys on his back ; a minstrel band 

Of Savoyards ; or, single and alone, 

An English ballad-singer. Private courts, 180 

Gloomy as coffins, and unsightly lanes 

Thrilled by some female vendor's scream, belike 

The very shrillest of all London cries, 

May then entangle our impatient steps ; 

Conducted through those labyrinths, unawares, 

To privileged regions and inviolate, 

Where from their airy lodge studious lawyers 

Look out on waters, walks, and gardens green. 

Thence back into the throng, until we reach, 
Following the tide that slackens by degrees, 190 

Some half- frequented scene, where wider streets 
Bring straggling breezes of suburban air. 
Here files of ballads dangle from dead walls ; 
Advertisements, of giant-size, from high 
Press forward, in all colors, on the sight ; 
These bold in conscious merit, lower down ; 
That, fronted with a most imposing word, 
Is, peradventure, one in masquerade. 
As on the broadening causeway we advance, 
Behold, turned upwards, a face hard and strong 200 



134 THE PRELUDE. 

In lineaments, and red with over- toil. 

Tis one encountered here and everywhere ; 

A travelling cripple, by the trunk cut short, 

And stumping on his arms. In sailor's garb 

Another lies at length, beside a range 

Of well-formed characters, with chalk inscribed 

Upon the smooth flat stones : the Nurse is here, 

The Bachelor, that loves to sun himself, 

The military Idler, and the Dame, 

That field-ward takes her walk with decent steps. 210 

Now homeward through the thickening hubbub, where 
See, among less distinguishable shapes, 
The begging scavenger, with hat in hand ; 
The Italian, as he thrids his way with care, 
Steadying, far-seen, a frame of images 
Upon his head ; with basket at his breast 
The Jew ; the stately and slow-moving Turk, 
With freight of slippers piled beneath his arm ! 

Enough ; the mighty concourse I surveyed 
With no unthinking mind, well pleased to note 220 

Among the crowd all specimens of man, 
Through all the colors which the sun bestows, 
And every character of form and face : 
The Swede, the Russian ; from the genial south, 
The Frenchman and the Spaniard ; from remote 
America, the Hunter-Indian ; Moors, 
Malays, Lascars, the Tartar, the Chinese, 
And Negro Ladies in white muslin gowns. 



BOOK SEVENTH. 135 

At leisure, then I viewed, from day to day, 
The spectacles within doors, birds and beasts 230 
Of every nature, and strange plants convened 
From every clime ; and, next, those sights that ape 
The absolute presence of reality, 
Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land, 
And what earth is, and what she has to show. 
I do not here allude to subtlest craft, 
By means refined attaining purest ends, 
But imitations, fondly made in plain 
Confession of man's weakness and his loves. 
Whether the Painter, whose ambitious skill 240 

Submits to nothing less than taking in 
A whole horizon's circuit, do with power, 
Like that of angels or commissioned spirits, 
Fix us upon some lofty pinnacle, 
Or in a ship on waters, with a world 
Of life, and life-like mockery beneath, 
Above, behind, far stretching and before ; 
Or more mechanic artist represent 
By scale exact, in model, wood or clay, 
From blended colors also borrowing help, 250 

Some miniature of famous spots or things, 
St. Peter's Church ; or, more aspiring aim, 
In microscopic vision, Rome herself; 
Or, haply, some choice rural haunt, the Falls 
Of Tivoli ; and, high upon that steep, 
The Sibyl's mouldering Temple ! every tree, 
Villa, or cottage, lurking among rocks 
Throughout the landscape ; tuft, stone, scratch minute 
All that the traveller sees when he is there. 



136 THE PRELUDE. 

Add to these exhibitions, mute and still, 260 

Others of wider scope, where living men, 
Music, and shifting pantomimic scenes, 
Diversified the allurement. Need I fear 
To mention by its name, as in degree, 
Lowest of these and humblest in attempt, 
Yet richly graced with honors of her own, 
Half-rural Sadler's Wells? Though at that time 
Intolerant, as is the way of youth 
Unless itself be pleased, here more than once 
Taking my seat, I saw (nor blush to add, 270 

With ample recompense)' giants and dwarfs, 
Clowns, conjurers, posture -masters, harlequins, 
Amid the uproar of the rabblement, 
Perform their feats. Nor was it mean delight 
To watch crude Nature work in untaught minds ; 
To note the laws and progress of belief; 
Though obstinate on this way, yet on that 
How willingly we travel, and how far ! 
To have, for instance, brought upon the scene 
The champion, Jack the Giant-killer : Lo ! 280 

He dons his coat of darkness ; on the stage 
Walks, and achieves his wonders, from the eye 
Of living Mortal covert, " as the moon 
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave." 
Delusion bold ! and how can it be wrought? 
The garb he wears is black as death, the word 
"Invisible " flames forth upon his chest. 

Here, too, were " forms and pressures of the time," 
Rough, bold, as Grecian comedy displayed 



BOOK SEVENTH. 137 

When Art was young ; dramas of living men, 290 

And recent things yet warm with life ; a sea-fight, 

Shipwreck, or some domestic incident 

Divulged by Truth and magnified by Fame ; 

Such as the daring brotherhood of late 

Set forth, too serious theme for that light place 

I mean, O distant Friend ! a story drawn 

From our own ground, The Maid of Buttermere, 

And how, unfaithful to a virtuous wife, 

Deserted and deceived, the Spoiler came 

And wooed the artless daughter of the hills, 300 

And wedded her, in cruel mockery 

Of love and marriage bonds. These words to thee 

Must needs bring back the moment when we first, 

Ere the broad world rang with the maiden's name, 

Beheld her serving at the cottage inn 

Both stricken, as sh entered or withdrew, 

With admiration of her modest mien 

And carriage, marked by unexampled grace. 

We since that time not unfamiliarly 

Have seen her, her discretion have observed, 310 

Her just opinions, delicate reserve, 

Her patience, and humility of mind 

Unspoiled by commendation and the excess 

Of public notice an offensive light 

To a meek spirit suffering inwardly. 

From this memorial tribute to my theme 
I was returning, when, with sundry forms 
Commingled shapes which met me in the way 
That we must tread thy image rose again, 



138 THE PRELUDE. 

Maiden of Buttermere ! She lives in peace 320 

Upon the spot where she was born and reared ; 

Without contamination doth she live 

In quietness, without anxiety : 

Beside the mountain chapel, sleeps in earth 

Her new-born infant, fearless as a lamb 

That, thither driven from some unsheltered place, 

Rests underneath the little rock-like pile 

When storms are raging. Happy are they both 

Mother and child ! These feelings, in themselves 

Trite, do yet seem scarcely so when I think 330 

On those ingenuous moments of our youth 

Ere we have learnt by use to slight the crimes 

And sorrows of the world. Those simple days 

Are now my theme : and, foremost of the scenes 

Which yet survive in memory, appears 

One, at whose centre sate a lonely Boy, 

A sportive infant, who, for six months' space, 

Not more, had been of age to deal about 

Articulate prattle Child as beautiful 

As ever clung around a mother's neck, 340 

Or father fondly gazed upon with pride. 

There, too, conspicuous for stature tall 

And large dark eyes, beside her infant stood 

The mother ; but, upon her cheeks diffused, 

False tints too well accorded with the glare 

From play-house lustres thrown without reserve 

On every object near. The Boy had been 

The pride and pleasure of all lookers-on 

In whatsoever place, but seemed in this 

A sort of alien scattered from the clouds. 350 



BOOK SEVENTH. 139 

Of lusty vigor, more than infantine 

He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose 

Just three parts blown a cottage-child if e'er, 

By cottage-door on breezy mountain side, 

Or in some sheltering vale, was seen a babe 

By Nature's gifts so favored. Upon a board 

Decked with refreshments had this child been placed, 

His little stage in the vast theatre, 

And there he sate surrounded with a throng 

Of chance spectators, chiefly dissolute men 360 

And shameless women, treated and caressed ; 

Ate, drank, and with the fruit and glasses played, 

While oaths and laughter and indecent speech 

Were rife about him as the songs of birds 

Contending after showers. The mother now 

Is fading out of memory, but I see 

The lovely Boy as I beheld him then 

Among the wretched and the falsely gay, 

Like one of those who walked with hair unsinged 

Amid the fiery furnace. Charms and spells 370 

Muttered on black and spiteful instigation 

Have stopped, as some believe, the kindliest growths. 

Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer 

Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked 

By special privilege of Nature's love, 

Should in his childhood be detained forever ! 

But with its universal freight the tide 

Hath rolled along, and this bright innocent, 

Mary ! may now have lived till he could look 

With envy on thy nameless babe that sleeps, 380 

Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed. 



140 THE PRELUDE. 

Four rapid years had scarcely then been told 
Since, travelling southward from our pastoral hills, 
I heard, and for the first time in my life, 
The voice of woman utter blasphemy 
Saw woman as she is, to open shame 
Abandoned, and the pride of public vice ; 
I shuddered, for a barrier seemed at once 
Thrown in that from humanity divorced 
Humanity, splitting the race of man 390 

In twain, yet leaving the same outward form. 
Distress of mind ensued upon the sight, 
And ardent meditation. Later years 
Brought to such a spectacle a milder sadness, 
Feelings of pure commiseration, grief 
For the individual and the overthrow 
Of her soul's beauty ; farther I was then 
But seldom led, or wished to go ; in truth 
The sorrow of the passion stopped me there. 

But let me now, less moved, in order take 400 

Our argument. Enough is said to show 
How casual incidents of real life, 
Observed where pastime only had been sought, 
Outweighed, or put to flight, the set events 
And measured passions of the stage, albeit 
By Siddons trod in the fulness of her power. 
Yet was the theatre my dear delight ; 
The very gilding, lamps and painted scrolls, 
And all the mean upholstery of the place, 
Wanted not animation, when the tide 410 

Of pleasure ebbed but to return as fast 



BOOK SEVENTH. 141 

With the ever-shifting figures of the scene, 

Solemn or gay : whether some beauteous dame, 

Advanced in radiance through a deep recess 

Of thick entangled forest, like the moon 

Opening the clouds ; or sovereign king, announced 

With flourishing trumpet, came in full-blown state 

Of the world's greatness, winding round with train 

Of courtiers, banners, and a length of guards ; 

Or captive led in abject weeds, and jingling 420 

His slender manacles ; or romping girl, 

Bounced, leapt, and pawed the air ; or mumbling sire, 

A scare-crow pattern of old age dressed up 

In all the tatters of infirmity 

All loosely put together, hobbled in, 

Stumping upon a cane with which he smites, 

From time to time, the solid boards, and makes them 

Prate somewhat loudly of the whereabout 

Of one so overloaded with his years. 

But what of this ! the laugh, the grin, grimace, 430 

The antics striving to outstrip each other, 

Were all received, the least of them not lost, 

With an unmeasured welcome. Through the night, 

Between the show, and many-headed mass 

Of the spectators, and each several nook 

Filled with its fray or brawl, how eagerly 

And with what flashes, as it were, the mind 

Turned this way that way ! sportive and alert 

And watchful, as a kitten when at play, 

While winds are eddying round her, among straws 440 

And rustling leaves. Enchanting age and sweet ! 

Romantic almost, looked at through a space, 



142 THE PRELUDE. 

How small, of intervening years ! For then, 

Though surely no mean progress had been made 

In meditations holy and sublime, 

Yet something of a girlish child-like gloss 

Of novelty survived for scenes like these ; 

Enjoyment haply handed down from times 

When at a country-playhouse, some rude barn 

Tricked out for that proud use, if I perchance 450 

Caught, on a summer evening through a chink 

In the old wall, an unexpected glimpse 

Of daylight, the bare thought of where I was 

Gladdened me more than if I had been led 

Into a dazzling cavern of romance, 

Crowded with Genii busy among works 

Not to be looked at by the common sun. 

The matter that detains us now may seem 
To many, neither dignified enough 
Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them 460 

Who, looking inward, have observed the ties 
That bind the perishable hours of life 
Each to the other, and the curious props 
By which the world of memory and thought 
Exists and is sustained. More lofty themes, 
Such as at least do wear a prouder face, 
Solicit our regard ; but when I think 
Of these, I feel the imaginative power 
Languish within me ; even then it slept, 
When, pressed by tragic sufferings, the heart 470 

Was more than full ; amid my sobs and tears 
It slept, even in the pregnant season of youth. 



BOOK SEVENTH. 143 

For though I was most passionately moved 

And yielded to all changes of the scene 

With an obsequious promptness, yet the storm 

Passed not beyond the suburbs of the mind ; 

Save when realities of act and mien, 

The incarnation of the spirits that move 

In harmony amid the Poet's world, 

Rose to ideal grandeur, or called forth 480 

By power of contrast, made me recognize, 

As at a glance, the things which I had shaped, 

And yet not shaped, had seen and scarcely seen, 

When, having closed the mighty Shakespeare's page, 

I mused, and thought, and felt, in solitude. 

Pass we from entertainments, that are such 
Professedly, to others titled higher, 
Yet, in the estimate of youth at least, 
More near akin to those than names imply, 
I mean the brawls of lawyers in their courts 490 

Before the ermined judge, or that great stage 
Where senators, tongue-favored men, perform, 
Admired and envied. Oh ! the beating heart, 
When one among the prime of these rose up, 
One, of whose name from childhood we had heard 
Familiarly, a household term, like those, 
The Bedfords, Glosters, Salsburys, of old 
Whom the fifth Harry talks of. Silence ! hush ! 
This is no trifler, no short- flighted wit, 
No stammerer of a minute, painfully 500 

Delivered. No ! the Orator hath yoked 
The Hours, like young Aurora, to his car : 



144 THE PRELUDE. 

Thrice welcome Presence ! how can patience e'er 

Grow weary of attending on a track 

That kindles with such glory ! All are charmed, 

Astonished ; like a hero in romance, 

He winds away his never-ending horn ; 

Words follow words, sense seems to follow sense ; 

What memory and what logic ! till the strain 

Transcendent, superhuman as it seemed, 510 

Grows tedious even in a young man's ear. 

Genius of Burke ! forgive the pen seduced 
By specious wonders, and too slow to tell 
Of what the ingenuous, what bewildered men, 
Beginning to mistrust their boastful guides, 
And wise men, willing to grow wiser, caught, 
Rapt auditors ! from thy most eloquent tongue 
Now mute, forever mute in the cold grave. 
I see him, old, but vigorous in age, 
Stand like an oak whose stag-horn branches start 520 
Out of its leafy brow, the more to awe 
The younger brethren of the grove. But some 
While he forewarns, denounces, launches forth, 
Against all systems built on abstract rights, 
Keen ridicule ; the majesty proclaims 
Of Institutes and Laws, hallowed by time ; 
Declares the vital power of social ties 
Endeared by Custom ; and with high disdain, 
Exploding upstart Theory, insists 

Upon the allegiance to which men are born 530 

Some say at once a froward multitude 
Murmur (for truth is hated, where not loved) 



BOOK SEVENTH. 145 

As the winds fret within the ^Eolian cave, 

Galled by their monarch's chain. The times were big 

With ominous change, which, night by night, provoked 

Keen struggles, and black clouds of passion raised ; 

But memorable moments intervened, 

When Wisdom, like the Goddess from Jove's brain, 

Broke forth in armor of resplendent words, 

Startling the Synod. Could a youth, and one 540 

In ancient story versed, whose breast had heaved 

Under the weight of classic eloquence, 

Sit, see, and hear, unthankful, uninspired? 

Nor did the Pulpit's oratory fail 
To achieve its higher triumph. Not unfelt 
Were its admonishments, nor lightly heard 
The awful truths delivered thence by tongues 
Endowed by various power to search the soul ; 
Yet ostentation, domineering, oft 

Poured forth harangues, how sadly out of place ! 550 
There have I seen a comely bachelor, 
Fresh from a toilette of two hours, ascend 
His rostrum, with seraphic glance look up, 
And, in a tone elaborately low 
Beginning, lead his voice through many a maze 
A minuet course ; and, winding up his mouth, 
From time to time, into an orifice 
Most delicate, a lurking eyelet, small, 
And only not invisible, again 

Open it out, diffusing thence a smile 560 

Of rapt irradiation, exquisite. 
Meanwhile the Evangelists, Isaiah, Job, 



146 THE PRELUDE. 

Moses, and he who penned, the other day, 

The death of Abel, Shakespeare, and the Bard 

Whose genius spangled o'er a gloomy theme 

With fancies thick as his inspiring stars, 

And Ossian (doubt not 'tis the naked truth) 

Summoned from streamy Morven each and all 

Would, in their turns, lend ornaments and flowers 

To entwine the crook of eloquence that helped 570 

This pretty Shepherd, pride of all the plains, 

To rule and guide his captivated flock. 



I glance but at a few conspicuous marks, 
Leaving a thousand others, that, in hall, 
Court, theatre, conventicle, or shop, 
In public room or private, park or street, 
Each fondly reared on his own pedestal, 
Looked out for admiration. Folly, vice, 
Extravagance in gesture, mien, and dress, 
And all the strife of singularity, 580 

Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense 
Of these, and of the living shapes they wear, 
There is no end. Such candidates for regard, 
Although well pleased to be where they were found, 
I did not hunt after, nor greatly prize, 
Nor made unto myself a secret boast 
Of reading them with quick and curious eye ; 
But, as a common produce, things that are 
To-day, to-morrow will be, took of them 
Such willing note as, on some errand bound 590 

That asks not speed, a traveller might bestow 



BOOK SEVENTH. 147 

On sea-shells that bestrew the sandy beach, 
Or daisies swarming through the fields of June. 

But foolishness and madness in parade, 
Though most at home in this their dear domain, 
Are scattered everywhere, no rarities, 
Even to the rudest novice of the Schools. 
Me, rather, it employed, to note, and keep 
In memory, those individual sights 
Of courage, or integrity, or truth, 600 

Or tenderness, which there, set off by foil, 
Appeared more touching. One will I select ; 
A Father for he bore that sacred name 
Him saw I, sitting in an open square, 
Upon a corner-stone of that low wall, 
Wherein were fixed the iron pales that fenced 
A spacious grass-plot ; there, in silence, sate 
This One Man, with a sickly babe outstretched 
Upon his knee, whom he had thither brought 
For sunshine, and to breathe the fresher air. 610 

Of those who passed, and me who looked at him, 
He took no heed ; but in his brawny arms 
(The Artificer was to the elbow bare, 
And from his work this moment had been stolen) 
He held the child, and, bending over it, 
As if he were afraid both of the sun 
And of the air, which he had come to seek, 
Eyed the poor babe with love unutterable. 

As the black storm upon the mountain top 
Sets off the sunbeam in the valley, so 620 

That huge fermenting mass of human-kind 



148 THE PRELUDE. 

Serves as a solid back-ground, or relief, 

To single forms and objects, whence they draw, 

For feeling and contemplative regard, 

More than inherent liveliness and power. 

How oft, amid those overflowing streets, 

Have I gone forward with the crowd, and said 

Unto myself, " The face of every one 

That passes by me is a mystery ! " 

Thus have I looked, nor ceased to look, oppressed 630 

By thoughts of what and whither, when and how, 

Until the shapes before my eyes became 

A second-sight procession, such as glides 

Over still mountains, or appears in dreams ; 

And once, far-travelled in such mood, beyond 

The reach of common indication, lost 

Amid the moving pageant, I was smitten 

Abruptly, with the view (a sight not rare) 

Of a blind Beggar, who, with upright face, 

Stood, propped against a wall, upon his chest 640 

Wearing a written paper, to explain 

His story, whence he came, and who he was. 

Caught by the spectacle my mind turned round 

As with the might of waters ; and apt type 

This label seemed of the utmost we can know, 

Both of ourselves and of the universe ; 

And, on the shape of that unmoving man 

His steadfast face and sightless eyes, I gazed, 

As if admonished from another world. 

Though reared upon the base of outward things, 650 
Structures like these the excited spirit mainly 



BOOK SEVENTH. 149 

Builds for herself; scenes different there are, 

Full- formed, that take, with small internal help, 

Possession of the faculties, the peace 

That comes with night : the deep solemnity 

Of nature's intermediate hours of rest, 

When the great tide of human life stands still : 

The business of the day to come, unborn, 

Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave ; 

The blended calmness of the heavens and earth, 660 

Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds 

Unfrequent as in deserts ; at late hours 

Of winter evenings, when unwholesome rains 

Are falling hard, with people yet astir, 

The feeble salutation from the voice 

Of some unhappy woman, now and then 

Heard as we pass, when no one looks about, 

Nothing is listened to. But these, I fear, 

Are falsely catalogued ; things that are, are not, 

As the mind answers to them, or the heart 670 

Is prompt, or slow, to feel. What say you, then, 

To times, when half the city shall break out 

Full of one passion, vengeance, rage, or fear? 

To executions, to a street on fire, 

Mobs, riots, or rejoicings ? From these sights 

Take one, that ancient festival, the Fair, 

Holden where martyrs suffered in past time, 

And named of St. Bartholomew ; there, see 

A work completed to our hands, that lays, 

If any spectacle on earth can do, 680 

The whole creative powers of man asleep ! 

For once, the Muse's help will we implore, 



150 THE PRELUDE. 

And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings, 

Above the press and danger of the crowd, 

Upon some showman's platform. What a shock 

For eyes and ears ! what anarchy and din, 

Barbarian and infernal, a phantasma, 

Monstrous in color, motion, shape, sight, sound ! 

Below, the open space, through every nook 

Of the wide area, twinkles, is alive 690 

With heads ; the midway region, and above, 

Is thronged with staring pictures and huge scrolls, 

Dumb proclamations of the Prodigies ; 

With chattering monkeys dangling from their poles, 

And children whirling in their roundabouts ; 

With those that stretch the neck and strain the eyes, 

And crack the voice in rivalship, the crowd 

Inviting ; with buffoons against buffoons 

Grimacing, writhing, screaming, him who grinds 

The hurdy-gurdy, at the fiddle weaves, 700 

Rattles the salt-box, thumps the kettle-drum, 

And him who at the trumpet puffs his cheeks, 

The silver-collared Negro with his timbrel, 

Equestrians, tumblers, women, girls, and boys, 

Blue-breeched, pink-vested, with high towering plumes. 

All movables of wonder, from all parts, 

Are here Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs, 

The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig, 

The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire, 

Giants, ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl, 710 

The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes, 

The Wax-work, clock-work, all the marvellous craft 

Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows 



BOOK SEVENTH. 151 

All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things, 

All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts 

Of man, his dulness, madness, and their feats 

All jumbled up together, to compose 

A parliament of Monsters. Tents and Booths 

Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill, 

Are vomiting, receiving on all sides, 720 

Men, Women, three-years' children, Babes in arms. 

Oh, blank confusion ! true epitome 
Of what the mighty City is herself, 
To thousands upon thousands of her sons, 
Living amid the same perpetual whirl 
Of trivial objects, melted and reduced 
To one identity, by differences 
That have no law, no meaning, and no end 
Oppression, under which even highest minds 
Must labor, whence the strongest are not free. 730 

But though the picture weary out the eye, 
By riature an unmanageable sight, 
It is not wholly so to him who looks 
In steadiness, who hath among least things 
An under-sense of greatest ; sees the parts 
As parts, but with a feeling of the whole. 
This, of all acquisitions, first awaits 
On sundry and most widely different modes 
Of education, nor with least delight 
On that through which I passed. Attention springs, 740 
And comprehensiveness and memory flow, 
From early converse with the works of God 
Among all regions ; chiefly where appear 



152 THE PRELUDE. 

Most obviously^implicity and power. 

Think, how the everlasting streams and woods, 

Stretched and still stretching far and wide, exalt 

The roving Indian, on his desert sands : 

What grandeur not unfelt, what pregnant show 

Of beauty, meets the sun-burnt Arab's eye : 

And, as the sea propels, from zone to zone, 750 

Its currents ; magnifies its shoals of life 

Beyond all compass ; spreads, and sends aloft 

Armies of clouds, even so, its powers and aspects 

Shape for mankind, by principles as fixed, 

The views and aspirations of the soul 

To majesty. Like virtue have the forms 

Perennial of the ancient hills ; nor less 

The changeful language of their countenances 

Quickens the slumbering mind, and aids the thoughts, 

However multitudinous, to move 760 

With order and relation. This, if still, 

As hitherto, in freedom I may speak, 

Not violating any just restraint, 

As may be hoped, of real modesty, 

This did I feel, in London's vast domain. 

The Spirit of Nature was upon me there ; 

The soul of Beauty and enduring Life 

Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused, 

Through meagre lines and colors, and the press 

Of self-destroying, transitory things, 770 

Composure, and ennobling Harmony. 



BOOK EIGHTH. 



RETROSPECT. LOVE OF NATURE LEADING TO 
LOVE OF MAN. 

WHAT sounds are those, Helvellyn, that are heard 

Up to thy summit, through the depth of air 

Ascending, as if distance had the power 

To make the sounds more audible ? What crowd 

Covers, or sprinkles o'er, yon village green ? 

Crowd seems it, solitary hill ! to thee 

Though but a little family of men, 

Shepherds and tillers of the ground betimes 

Assembled with their children and their wives, 

And here and there a stranger interspersed. 

They hold a rustic fair a festival, 

Such as, on this side now, and now on that, 

Repeated through his tributary vales, 

Helvellyn, in the silence of his rest, 

Sees annually, if clouds towards either ocean 

Blown from their favorite resting-place, or mists 

Dissolved, have left him an unshrouded head. 

Delightful day it is for all who dwell 

In this secluded glen, and eagerly 

They give it welcome. Long ere heat of noon, 



154 THE PRELUDE. 

From byre or field the kine were brought ; the sheep 

Are penned in cotes ; the chaffering is begun. 

The heifer lows, uneasy at the voice 

Of a new master ; bleat the flocks aloud. 

Booths are there none ; a stall or two is here ; 

A lame man or a blind, the one to beg, 

The other to make music ; hither, too, 

From far, with basket, slung upon her arm, 

Of hawker's wares books, pictures, combs, and pins 

Some aged woman finds her way again, 30 

Year after year, a punctual visitant ! 

There also stands a speech-maker by rote, 

Pulling the strings of his boxed raree-show ; 

And in the lapse of many years may come 

Prouder itinerant, mountebank, or he 

Whose wonders in a covered wain lie hid. 

But one there is, the loveliest of them all, 

Some sweet lass of the valley, looking out 

For gains, and who that sees her would not buy? 

Fruits of her father's orchard are her wares, 40 

And with the ruddy produce, she walks round 

Among the crowd, half pleased with, half ashamed 

Of her new office, blushing restlessly. 

The children now are rich, for the old to-day 

Are generous as the young, and, if content 

With looking on, some ancient wedded pair 

Sit in the shade together, while they gaze, 

" A cheerful smile unbends the wrinkled brow, 

The days departed start again to life, 

And all the scenes of childhood reappear, 50 

Faint, but more tranquil, like the changing sun 



BOOK EIGHTH. 155 

To him who slept at noon and wakes at eve." 

Thus gayety and cheerfulness prevail, 

Spreading from young to old, from old to young, 

And no one seems to want his share. Immense 

Is the recess, the circumambient world 

Magnificent, by which they are embraced. 

They move about upon the soft green turf : 

How little they, they and their doings, seem, 

And all that they can further or obstruct ! 60 

Through utter weakness pitiably dear, 

As tender infants are ; and yet how great ! 

For all things serve them ; them the morning light 

Loves, as it glistens on the silent rocks ; 

And them the silent rocks which now from high 

Look down upon them ; the reposing clouds ; 

The wild brooks prattling from invisible haunts ; 

And old Helvellyn, conscious of the stir 

Which animates this day their calm abode. 

With deep devotion, Nature, did I feel, 70 

In that enormous City's turbulent world 
Of men and things, what benefit I owed 
To thee, and those domains of rural peace, 
Where to the sense of beauty first my heart 
Was opened, tract more exquisitely fair 
Than that famed paradise of ten thousand trees, 
Or Gehol's matchless gardens, for delight 
Of the Tartarian dynasty composed 
(Beyond that mighty wall, not fabulous, 
China's stupendous mound) by patient toil So 

Of myriads and boon nature's lavish help ; 



156 THE PRELUDE. 

There, in a clime from widest empire chosen, 

Fulfilling (could enchantment have done more ?) 

A sumptuous dream of flowery lawns, with domes 

Of pleasure sprinkled over, shady dells 

For eastern monasteries, sunny mounts 

With temples crested, bridges, gondolas, 

Rocks, dens, and groves of foliage taught to melt 

Into each other their obsequious hues, 

Vanished and vanishing in subtle chase, 90 

Too fine to be pursued ; or standing forth 

In no discordant opposition, strong 

And gorgeous as the colors side by side 

Bedded among rich plumes of tropic birds ; 

And mountains over all, embracing all ; 

And all the landscape, endlessly enriched 

With waters running, falling, or asleep. 



But lovelier far than this, the paradise 
Where I was reared ; in Nature's primitive gifts 
Favored no less, and more to every sense 
Delicious, seeing that the sun and sky, 
The elements, and seasons as they change, 
Do find a worthy fellow-laborer there 
Man free, man working for himself, with choice 
Of time, and place and object ; by his wants, 
His comforts, native occupations, cares, 
Cheerfully led to individual ends 
Or social, and still followed by a train 
Unwooed, unthought-of even simplicity, 
And beauty, and inevitable grace. 



BOOK EIGHTH. 157 

Yea, when a glimpse of those imperial bowers 
Would to a child be transport over-great, 
When but a half-hour's roam through such a place 
Would leave behind a dance of images, 
That shall break in upon his sleep for weeks ; 
Even then the common haunts of the green earth, 
And ordinary interests of man, 
Which they embosom, all without regard 
As both may seem, are fastening on the heart 
Insensibly, each with the other's help. 120 

For me, when my affections first were led 
From kindred, friends, and playmates, to partake 
Love for the human creature's absolute self, 
That noticeable kindliness of heart 
Sprang out of fountains, there abounding most, 
Where sovereign Nature dictated the tasks 
And occupations which her beauty adorned, 
And Shepherds were the men that pleased me first ; 
Not such as Saturn ruled 'mid Latian wilds, 
With arts and laws so tempered that their lives 130 

Left, even to us toiling in this late day, 
A bright tradition of the golden age ; 
Not such as, 'mid Arcadian fastnesses 
Sequestered, handed down among themselves 
Felicity, in Grecian song renowned ; 
Nor such as when an adverse fate had driven, 
From house and home, the courtly band whose fortunes 
Entered, with Shakespeare's genius, the wild woods 
Of Arden amid sunshine or in shade 
Culled the best fruits of Time's uncounted hours, 140 
Ere Phcebe sighed for the false Ganymede ; 



158 THE PRELUDE. 

Or there where Perdita and Florizel 

Together danced, Queen of the feast, and King ; 

Nor such as Spenser fabled. True it is, 

That I had heard (what he perhaps had seen) 

Of maids at sunrise bringing in from far 

Their May-bush, and along the streets in flocks 

Parading with a song of taunting rhymes, 

Aimed at the laggards slumbering within doors ; 

Had also heard, from those who yet remembered, 150 

Tales of the May-pole dance, and wreaths that decked 

Porch, door-way, or kirk-pillar ; and of youths, 

Each with his maid, before the sun was up, 

By annual custom, issuing forth in troops, 

To drink the waters of some sainted well 

And hang it round with garlands. Love survives ; 

But, for such purpose, flowers no longer grow : 

The times, too sage, perhaps too proud, have dropped 

These lighter graces ; and the rural ways 

And manners which my childhood looked upon 160 

Were the unluxuriant produce of a life 

Intent on little but substantial needs, 

Yet rich in beauty, beauty that was felt. 

But images of danger and distress, 

Man suffering among awful Powers and Forms ; 

Of this I heard, and saw enough to make 

Imagination restless ; nor was free 

Myself from frequent perils ; nor were tales 

Wanting, the tragedies of former times, 

Hazards and strange escapes, of which the rocks 170 

Immutable and overflowing streams, 

Where'er I roamed, were speaking monuments. 



BOOK EIGHTH. 159 

Smooth life had flock and shepherd in old time, 
Long springs and tepid winters, on the banks 
Of delicate Galesus ; and no less 
Those scattered along Adria's myrtle shores : 
Smooth life had herdsman, and his snow-white herd 
To triumphs and to sacrificial rites 
Devoted, on the inviolable stream 

Of rich Clitumnus ; and the goat-herd lived 180 

As calmly, underneath the pleasant brows 
Of cool Lucretilis, where the pipe was heard 
Of Pan, Invisible God, thrilling the rocks 
With tutelary music, from all harm 
The fold protecting. I myself, mature 
In manhood then, have seen a pastoral track 
Like some of these, where Fancy might run wild, 
Though under skies less generous, less serene ; 
There, for her own delight had Nature framed 
A pleasure-ground, diffused a fair expanse 190 

Of level pasture, islanded with groves 
And banked with woody risings ; but the Plain 
Endless, here opening widely out, and there 
Shut up in lesser lakes or beds of lawn 
And intricate recesses, creek or bay 
Sheltered within a shelter, where at large 
The shepherd strays, a rolling hut his home. 
Thither he comes with spring-time, there abides 
All summer, and at sunrise ye may hear 
His flageolet to liquid notes of love 200 

Attuned, or sprightly fife resounding far. 
Nook is there none, nor tract of that vast space 
Where passage opens, but the same shall have 



160 THE PRELUDE. 

In turn its visitant, telling there his hours 

In unlaborious pleasure, with no task 

More toilsome than to carve a beechen bowl 

For spring or fountain, which the traveller finds, 

When through the region he pursues at will 

His devious course. A glimpse of such sweet life 

I saw when, from the melancholy walls 210 

Of Goslar, once imperial, I renewed 

My daily walk along that wide champaign, 

That, reaching to her gates, spreads east and west, 

And northwards, from beneath the mountainous verge 

Of the Hercynian forest. Yet, hail to you 

Moors, mountains, headlands, and ye hollow vales, 

Ye long deep channels for the Atlantic's voice, 

Powers of my native region ! Ye that seize 

The heart with firmer grasp ! Your snows and streams 

Ungovernable, and your terrifying winds, 220 

That howl so dismally for him who treads 

Companionless your awful solitudes ! 

There, 'tis the shepherd's task the winter long 

To wait upon the storms : of their approach 

Sagacious, into sheltering coves he drives 

His flock, and thither from the homestead bears 

A toilsome burden up the craggy ways, 

And deals it out their regular nourishment 

Strewn on the frozen snow. And when the spring 

Looks out, and all the pastures dance with lambs, 230 

And when the flock, with warmer weather, climbs 

Higher and higher, him his office leads 

To watch their goings, whatsoever track 

The wanderers choose. For this he quits his home 



BOOK EIGHTH. 161 

At day-spring, and no sooner doth the sun 

Begin to strike him with a fire-like heat, 

Than he lies down upon some shining rock, 

And breakfasts with his dog. When they have stolen, 

As is their wont, a pittance from strict time, 

For rest not needed or exchange of love, 240 

Then from his couch he starts ; and now his feet 

Crush out a livelier fragrance from the flowers 

Of lowly thyme, by Nature's skill enwrought 

In the wild turf; the lingering dews of morn 

Smoke round him, as from hill to hill he hies, 

His staff protending like a hunter's spear, 

Or by its aid leaping from crag to crag, 

And o'er the brawling beds of unbridged streams. 

Philosophy, methinks, at Fancy's call, 

Might deign to follow him through what he does 250 

Or sees in his day's march ; himself he feels, 

In those vast regions where his service lies, 

A freeman, wedded to his life of hope 

And hazard, and hard labor interchanged 

With that majestic indolence so dear 

To native man. A rambling school-boy, thus 

I felt his presence in his own domain, 

As of a lord and master, or a power, 

Or genius, under Nature, under God, 

Presiding ; and severest solitude 260 

Had more commanding looks when he was there 

When up the lonely brooks on rainy days 

Angling I went, or trod the trackless hills 

By mists bewildered, suddenly mine eyes 

Have glanced upon him distant, a few steps, 



162 THE PRELUDE. 

In size a giant, stalking through thick fog, 

His sheep like Greenland bears ; or, as he stepped 

Beyond the boundary line of some hill shadow, 

His form hath flashed upon me, glorified 

By the deep radiance of the setting sun ; 270 

Or him have I descried in distant sky, 

A solitary object and sublime. 

Above all height ! like an aerial cross 

Stationed alone upon a spiry rock 

Of the Chartreuse, for worship. Thus was man 

Ennobled outwardly before my sight, 

And thus my heart was early introduced 

To an unconscious love and reverence 

Of human nature ; hence the human form 

To me became an index of delight, 280 

Of grace and honor, power and worthiness. 

Meanwhile this creature spiritual almost 

As those of books, but more exalted far ; 

Far more of an imaginative form 

Than the gay Corin of the groves, who lives 

For his own fancies, or to dance by the hour, 

In coronal, with Phyllis in the midst 

Was, for the purposes of kind, a man 

With the most common ; husband, father ; learned, 

Could teach, admonish ; suffered with the rest 290 

From vice and folly, wretchedness and fear ; 

Of this I little saw, cared less for it, 

But something must have felt. 

Call ye these appearances 
Which I beheld of shepherds in my youth, 
This sanctity of Nature given to man 



BOOK EIGHTH. 163 

A shadow, a delusion, ye who pore 

On the dead letter, miss the spirit of things ; 

Whose truth is not a motion or a shape 

Instinct with vital functions, but a block 

Or waxen image which yourselves have made, 300 

And ye adore ! But blessed be the God 

Of Nature and of Man that this was so ; 

That men before my inexperienced eyes 

Did first present themselves thus purified, 

Removed, and to a distance that was fit : 

And so we all of us in some degree 

Are led to knowledge, wheresoever led, 

And howsoever ; were it otherwise, 

And we found evil fast as we find good 

In our first years, or think that it is found, 310 

How could the innocent heart bear up and live ! 

But doubly fortunate my lot ; not here 

Alone, that something of a better life 

Perhaps was round me than it is the privilege 

Of most to move in, but that first I looked 

At Man through objects that were great or fair ; 

First communed with him by their help. And thus 

Was founded a sure safeguard and defence 

Against the weight of meanness, selfish cares, 

Coarse manners, vulgar passions, that beat in 320 

On all sides from the ordinary world 

In which we traffic. Starting from this point 

I had my face turned toward the truth, began 

With an advantage furnished by that kind 

Of prepossession, without which the soul 

Receives no knowledge that can bring forth good, 



164 THE PRELUDE. 

No genuine insight ever comes to her. 

From the restraint of over- watchful eyes 

Preserved, I moved about, year after year, 

Happy, and now most thankful that my walk 330 

Was guarded from too early intercourse 

With the deformities of crowded life, 

And those ensuing laughters and contempts, 

Self-pleasing, which, if we would wish to think 

With a due reverence on earth's rightful lord, 

Here placed to be the inheritor of heaven, 

Will not permit us ; but pursue the mind, 

That to devotion willingly would rise, 

Into the temple and the temple's heart. 

Yet deem riot, friend ! that human kind with me 340 
Thus early took a place pre-eminent ; 
Nature herself was, at this unripe time, 
But secondary to my own pursuits 
And animal activities, and all 

Their trivial pleasure ; and when these had dropped 
And gradually expired, and Nature, prized 
For her own sake, became my joy, even then 
And upwards through late youth, until not less 
Than two-and-twenty summers had been told 
Was Man in my affections and regards 350 

Subordinate to her, her visible forms 
And viewless agencies : a passion, she, 
A rapture often, and immediate love 
Ever at hand ; he, only a delight 
Occasional, an accidental grace, 
His hour being not yet come. Far less had then 



BOOK EIGHTH. 165 

The inferior creatures, beast or bird, attuned 

My spirit to that gentleness of love 

(Though they had long been carefully observed), 

Won from me those minute obeisances 360 

Of tenderness, which I may number now 

With my first blessings. Nevertheless, on these 

The light of beauty did not fall in vain, 

Or grandeur circumfuse them to no end. 

But when that first poetic faculty 
Of plain Imagination and severe, 
No longer a mute influence of the soul, 
Ventured, at some rash Muse's earnest call, 
To try her strength among harmonious words ; 
And to book-notions and the rules of art 37 

Did knowingly conform itself, there came 
Among the simple shapes of human life 
A wilfulness of fancy and conceit ; 
And Nature and her objects beautified 
These fictions, as in some sort, in their turn, 
They burnished her. From touch of this new power 
Nothing was safe : the elder-tree that grew 
Beside the well-known charnel-house had then 
A dismal look : the yew-tree had its ghost, 
That took his station there for ornament : 380 

The dignities of plain occurrence then 
Were tasteless, and truth's golden mean, a point 
Where no sufficient pleasure could be found. 
Then, if a widow, staggering with the blow 
Of her distress, was known to have turned her steps 
To the cold grave in which her husband slept, 



166 THE PRELUDE. 

One night, or haply more than one, through pain 

Or half-insensate impotence of mind, 

The fact was caught at greedily, and there 

She must be visitant the whole year through, 390 

Wetting the turf with never-ending tears. 

Through quaint obliquities I might pursue 
These cravings ; when the fox-glove, one by one, 
Upwards through every stage of the tall stem, 
Had shed beside the public way its bells, 
And stood of all dismantled, save the last 
Left at the tapering ladder's top, that seemed 
To bend as doth a slender blade of grass 
Tipped with a rain-drop, Fancy loved to seat, 
Beneath the plant despoiled, but crested still 400 

With this last relic, soon itself to fall, 
Some vagrant mother, whose arch little ones, 
All unconcerned by her dejected plight, 
Laughed as with rival eagerness their hands 
Gathered the purple cups that round them lay, 
Strewing the turf's green slope. 

A diamond light 

(Whene'er the summer sun, declining, smote 
A smooth rock wet with constant springs) was seen 
Sparkling from out a copse-clad bank that rose 
Fronting our cottage. Oft beside the hearth 410 

Seated, with open door, often and long 
Upon this restless lustre have I gazed, 
That made my fancy restless as itself. 
'Twas now for me a burnished silver shield 
Suspended over a knight's tomb, who lay 



BOOK EIGHTH. 167 

Inglorious, buried in the dusky wood : 

An entrance now into some magic cave 

Or palace built by fairies of the rock ; 

Nor could I have been bribed to disenchant 

The spectacle, by visiting the spot. 420 

Thus wilful Fancy, in no hurtful mood, 

Engrafted far-fetched shapes on feelings bred 

By pure Imagination : busy Power 

She was, and with her ready pupil turned 

Instinctively to human passions, then 

Least understood. Yet, 'mid the fervent swarm 

Of these vagaries, with an eye so rich 

As mine was through the bounty of a grand 

And lovely region, I had forms distinct 

To steady me : each airy thought revolved 430 

Round a substantial centre, which at once 

Incited it to motion, and controlled. 

I did not pine like one in cities bred, 

As was thy melancholy lot, dear Friend ! 

Great Spirit as thou art, in endless dreams 

Of sickliness, disjoining, joining, things 

Without the light of knowledge. Where the harm 

If, when the woodman languished with disease, 

Induced by sleeping nightly on the ground 

Within his sod-built cabin, Indian-wise, 44 

I called the pangs of disappointed love, 

And all the sad etcetera of the wrong, 

To help him to his grave ? Meanwhile the man, 

If not already from the wood retired 

To die at home, was haply as I knew, 

Withering by slow degrees, 'mid gentle airs, 



168 THE PRELUDE. 

Birds, running streams, and hills so beautiful 

On golden evenings, while the charcoal pile 

Breathed up its smoke, an image of his ghost 

Or spirit that full soon must take her flight. 450 

Nor shall we not be tending towards that point 

Of sound humanity to which our Tale 

Leads, though by sinuous ways, if here I show 

How Fancy, in a season when she wove 

Those slender cords, to guide the unconscious Boy 

For the Man's sake, could feed at Nature's call 

Some pensive musings, which might well beseem 

Maturer years. 

A grove there is whose boughs 
Stretch from the western marge of Thurstonmere, 
With length of shade so thick that whoso glides 460 
Along the line of low-roofed water, moves 
As in a cloister. Once while, in that shade 
Loitering, I watched the golden beams of light 
Flung from the setting sun, as they reposed 
In silent beauty on the naked ridge 
Of a high eastern hill thus flowed my thoughts 
In a pure stream of words fresh from the heart : 
Dear native Regions, wheresoe'er shall close 
My mortal course, there will I think on you ; 
Dying, will cast on you a backward look ; 470 

Even as this setting sun (albeit the Vale 
Is nowhere touched by one memorial gleam) 
Doth with the fond remains of his last power 
Still linger, and a farewell lustre sheds 
On the dear mountain-tops where first he rose. 



BOOK EIGHTH. 169 

Enough of humble arguments ; recall, 
My Song ! those high emotions which thy voice 
Has heretofore made known ; that bursting forth 
Of sympathy, inspiring and inspired, 
When everywhere a vital pulse was felt, 480 

And all the several frames of things, like stars, 
Through every magnitude distinguishable, 
Shone mutually indebted, or half lost 
Each in the other's blaze, a galaxy 
Of life and glory. In the midst stood Man, 
Outwardly, inwardly contemplated, 
As, of all visible natures, crown, though born 
Of dust, and kindred to the worm ; a Being, 
Both in perception and discernment, first 
In every capability of rapture, 490 

Through the divine effect of power and love ; 
As, more than anything we know, instinct 
With godhead, and, by reason and by will, 
Acknowledging dependency sublime. 

Ere long, the lonely mountains left, I move, 
Begirt, from day to day, with temporal shapes 
Of vice and folly thrust upon my view, 
Objects of sport, and ridicule, and scorn, 
Manners and characters discriminate, 
And little bustling passions that eclipse, 500 

As well they might, the impersonated thought, 
The idea, or abstraction of the kind. 

An idler among academic bowers, 
Such was my new condition, as at large 



170 THE PRELUDE. 

Has been set forth ; yet here the vulgar light 

Of present, actual, superficial life, 

Gleaming through coloring of other times, 

Old usages and local privilege, 

Was welcomed, softened, if not solemnized, 

This notwithstanding, being brought more near 510 

To vice and guilt, forerunning wretchedness, 

I trembled, thought, at times, of human life 

With an indefinite terror and dismay, 

Such as the storms and angry elements 

Had bred in me ; but gloomier far, a dim 

Analogy to uproar and misrule, 

Disquiet, danger, and obscurity. 

It might be told, (but wherefore speak of things 
Common to all?) that, seeing, I was led 
Gravely to ponder judging between good 520 

And evil, not as for the mind's delight, 
But for her guidance one who was to act, 
As sometimes to the best of feeble means 
I did, by human sympathy impelled : 
And, through dislike and most offensive pain, 
Was to the truth conducted ; of this faith 
Never forsaken, that, by acting well, 
And understanding, I should learn to love 
The end of life, and everything we know. 

Grave Teacher, stern Preceptress ! for at times 530 
Thou canst put on an aspect most severe ; 
London, to thee I willingly return. 
Erewhile my verse played idly with the flowers 



BOOK EIGHTH. 171 

Enwrought upon thy mantle ; satisfied 

With that amusement, and a simple look 

Of child-like inquisition now and then 

Cast upwards on thy countenance, to detect 

Some inner meanings which might harbor there. 

But how could I in mood so light indulge, 

Keeping such fresh remembrance of the day 54 

When, having thridded the long labyrinth 

Of the suburban villages, I first 

Entered thy vast dominions. On the roof 

Of an itinerant vehicle I sate, 

With vulgar men about me, trivial forms 

Of houses, pavement, streets, of men and things, 

Mean shapes on every side ; but, at the instant 

When to myself it fairly might be said, 

The threshold now is overpast, (how strange 

That aught external to the living mind 550 

Should have such mighty sway ! yet so it was), 

A weight of ages did at once descend 

Upon my heart ; no thought embodied, no 

Distinct remembrances, but weight and power, 

Power growing under weight : alas ! I feel 

That I am trifling : 'twas a moment's pause, 

All that took place within me came and went 

As in a moment ; yet with Time it dwells, 

And grateful memory, as a thing divine. 

The curious traveller, who, from open day, 560 

Hath passed with torches into some huge cave, 
The Grotto of Antiparos, or the Den 
In old time haunted by that Danish Witch, 



172 THE PRELUDE. 

Yordas : he looks around and sees the vault, 

Widening on all sides ; sees, or thinks he sees, 

Erelong, the massy roof above his head, 

That instantly unsettles and recedes, 

Substance and shadow, light and darkness, all 

Commingled, making up a canopy 

Of shapes and forms and tendencies to shape 570 

That shift and vanish, change and interchange 

Like spectres, ferment silent and sublime ! 

That after a short space works less and less, 

Till, every effort, every motion gone, 

The scene before him stands in perfect view 

Exposed, and lifeless as a written book ! 

But let him pause awhile, and look again, 

And a new quickening shall succeed, at first 

Beginning timidly, then creeping fast, 

Till the whole cave, so late a senseless mass, 580 

Busies the eye with images and forms 

Boldly assembled, here is shadowed forth 

From the projections, wrinkles, cavities, 

A variegated landscape, there the shape 

Of some gigantic warrior clad in mail. 

The ghostly semblance of a hooded monk, 

Veiled nun, or pilgrim resting on his staff : 

Strange congregation ! yet not slow to meet 

Eyes that perceive through minds that can inspire. 

Even in such sort had I at first been moved, 590 

Nor otherwise continued to be moved, 
As I explored the vast metropolis, 
Fount of my country's destiny and the world's : 



BOOK EIGHTH. 173 

That great emporium, chronicle at once 
And burial-place of passions, and their home 
Imperial, their chief living residence. 

With strong sensations teeming as it did 
Of past and present, such a place must needs 
Have pleased me, seeking knowledge at that time 
Far less than craving power ; yet knowledge came, 600 
Sought or unsought, and influxes of power 
Came, of themselves, or at her call derived 
In fits of kindliest apprehensiveness, 
From all sides, when whate'er was in itself 
Capacious found, or seemed to find, in me 
A correspondent amplitude of mind ; 
Such is the strength and glory of our youth ! 
The human nature unto which I felt 
That I belonged, and reverenced with love, 
Was not a punctual presence, but a spirit 610 

Diffused through time and space, with aid derived 
Of evidence from monuments, erect, 
Prostrate, or leaning towards their common rest 
In earth, the widely scattered wreck sublime 
Of vanished nations, or more clearly drawn 
From books and what they picture and record. 

'Tis true, the history of our native land, 
With those of Greece compared and popular Rome, 
And in our high wrought modern narratives 
Stript of their harmonizing soul, the life 620 

Of manners and familiar incidents, 
Had never much delighted me. And less 



174 THE PRELUDE. 

Than other intellects had mine been used 

To lean upon intrinsic circumstance 

Of record or tradition ; but a sense 

Of what in the Great City had been done 

And suffered, and was doing, suffering, still, 

Weighed with me, could support the test of thought ; 

And, in despite of all that had gone by, 

Or was departing never to return, 630 

There I conversed with majesty and power 

Like independent natures. Hence the place 

Was thronged with impregnations like the Wilds 

In which my early feelings had been nursed 

Bare hills and valleys, full of caverns, rocks, 

And audible seclusions, dashing lakes, 

Echoes and waterfalls and pointed crags 

That into music touch the passing wind. 

Here then my young imagination found 

No uncongenial element j could here 640 

Among new objects serve or give command, 

Even as the heart's occasions might require, 

To forward reason's else too-scrupulous march. 

The effect was, still more elevated views 

Of human nature. Neither vice nor guilt, 

Debasement undergone by body or mind, 

Nor all the misery forced upon my sight, 

Misery not lightly passed, but sometimes scanned 

Most feelingly, could overthrow my trust 

In what we may become ; induce belief 650 

That I was ignorant, had been falsely taught, 

A solitary, who with vain conceits 

Had been inspired, and walked about in dreams. 



BOOK EIGHTH. 175 

From those sad scenes when meditation turned, 

Lo ! everything that was indeed divine 

Retained its purity inviolate, 

Nay brighter shone, by this portentous gloom 

Set off; such opposition as aroused 

The mind of Adam, yet in Paradise 

Though fallen from bliss, when in the East he saw 660 

Darkness ere day's mid course, and morning light 

More orient in the western cloud, that drew 

O'er the blue firmament a radiant white, 

Descending slow with something heavenly fraught. 

Add also, that among the multitudes 
Of that huge city, oftentimes was seen 
Affectingly set forth, more than elsewhere 
Is possible, the unity of man, 
One spirit over ignorance and vice 
Predominant, in good and evil hearts ; 670 

One sense for moral judgments, as one eye 
For the sun's light. The soul when smitten thus 
By a sublime idea whencesoe'er 
Vouchsafed for union or communion, feeds 
On the pure bliss, and takes her rest with God. 

Thus from a very early age, O Friend ! 
My thoughts by slow gradations had been drawn 
To human kind, and to the good and ill 
Of human life, Nature had led me on ; 
And oft amid the "busy hum" I seemed 680 

To travel independent of her help, 
As if I had forgotten her ; but no, 



176 THE PRELUDE. 

The world of human-kind outweighed not hers 
In my habitual thoughts ; the scale of love, 
Though filling daily, still was light, compared 
With that in which her mighty objects lay. 



BOOK NINTH. 



RESIDENCE IN FRANCE. 

EVEN as a river partly (it might seem) 

Yielding to old remembrances, and swayed 

In part by fear to shape a way direct, 

That would engulph him soon in the ravenous sea 

Turns, and will measure back his course, far back, 

Seeking the very regions which he crossed 

In his first outset ; so have we, my Friend, 

Turned and returned with intricate delay. 

Or as a traveller who has gained the brow 

Of some aerial Down, while there he halts 

For breathing-time, is tempted to review 

The region left behind him ; and, if aught 

Deserving notice have escaped regard, 

Or been regarded with too careless eye, 

Strives, from that height, with one and yet one more 

Last look, to make the best amends he may : 

So have we lingered. Now we start afresh 

With courage, and new hope risen on our toil. 

Fair greetings to this shapeless eagerness, 

Whene'er it comes ! needful in work so long, 

Thrice needful to the argument which now 

Awaits us ! Oh, how much unlike the past ! 



178 THE PRELUDE. 

Free as a colt at pasture on the hill, 
I ranged at large, through London's wide domain, 
Month after month. Obscurely did I live, 
Not seeking frequent intercourse with men 
By literature, or elegance, or rank, 
Distinguished. Scarcely was a year thus spent 
Ere I forsook the crowded solitude, 
With less regret for its luxurious pomp, 30 

And all the nicely guarded shows of art, 
Than for the humble book-stalls in the streets, 
Exposed to eye and hand where'er I turned. 

France lured me forth ; the realm that I had crossed 
So lately, journeying towards the snow-clad Alps. 
But now, relinquishing the scrip and staff, 
And all enjoyment which the summer sun 
Sheds round the steps of those who meet the day 
With motion constant as his own, I went 
Prepared to sojourn in a pleasant town, 40 

Washed by the current of the stately Loire. 

Through Paris lay my readiest course, and there 
Sojourning a few days, I visited 
In haste each spot of old or recent fame, 
The latter chiefly ; from the field of Mars 
Down to the suburbs of St. Antony, 
And from Mont Martre southward to the Dome 
Of Genevieve. In both her clamorous Halls, 
The National Synod and the Jacobins, 
I saw the Revolutionary Power 5 



BOOK NINTH. 179 

Tossed like a ship at anchor, rocked by storms ; 

The Arcades I traversed in the Palace huge 

Of Orleans ; coasted round and round the line 

Of Tavern, Brothel, Gaming-house, and Shop, 

Great rendezvous of worst and best, the walk 

Of all who had a purpose, or had not ; 

I stared and listened, with a stranger's ears, 

To Hawkers and Haranguers, hubbub wild ! 

And hissing Factionists with ardent eyes, 

In knots, or pairs, or single. Not a look 60 

Hope takes, or Doubt or Fear is forced to wear, 

But seemed there present ; and I scanned them all, 

Watched every gesture uncontrollable, 

Of anger, and vexation, and despite, 

All side by side, and struggling face to face, 

With gayety and dissolute idleness. 

Where silent zephyrs sported with the dust 
Of the Bastile I sat in the open sun 
And from the rubbish gathered up a stone, 
And pocketed the relic, in the guise 7 

Of an enthusiast ; yet, in honest truth, 
I looked for something that I could not find, 
Affecting more emotion than I felt ; 
For 'tis most certain that these various sights, 
However potent their first shock, with me 
Appeared to recompense the traveller's pains 
Less than the painted Magdalene of Le Brun, 
A beauty exquisitely wrought, with hair 
Dishevelled, gleaming eyes, and rueful cheek 
Pale and bedropped with overflowing tears. 80 



180 THE PRELUDE. 

But hence to my more permanent abode 
I hasten ; there, by novelties in speech, 
Domestic manners, customs, gestures, looks, 
And all the attire of ordinary life, 
Attention was engrossed ; and, thus amused, 
I stood 'mid those concussions, unconcerned, 
Tranquil almost, and careless as a flower 
Glassed in a green-house, or a parlor shrub 
That spreads its leaves in unmolested peace, 
While every bush and tree, the country through, 90 
Is shaking to the roots : indifference this 
Which may seem strange ; but I was unprepared 
With needful knowledge, had abruptly passed 
Into a theatre whose stage was filled 
And busy with an action far advanced. 
Like others, I had skimmed, and sometimes read 
With care, the master pamphlets of the day ; 
Nor wanted such half-insight as grew wild 
Upon that meagre soil, helped out by talk 
And public news ; but having never seen 100 

A chronicle that might suffice to show 
Whence the main organs of the public power 
Had sprung, their transmigrations, when and how 
Accomplished, giving thus unto events 
A form and body ; all things were to me 
Loose and disjointed, and the affections left 
Without a vital interest. At that time, 
Moreover, the first storm was overblown, 
And the strong hand of outward violence 
Locked up in quiet. For myself, I fear no 

Now in connection with so great a theme 



BOOK NINTH. 181 

To speak (as I must be compelled to do) 

Of one so unimportant ; night by night 

Did I frequent the formal haunts of men, 

Whom, in the city, privilege of birth 

Sequestered from the rest, societies 

Polished in arts, and in punctilio versed ; 

Whence, and from deeper causes, all discourse 

Of good and evil of the time was shunned 

With scrupulous care : but these restrictions soon 120 

Proved tedious, and I gradually withdrew 

Into a noisier world, and thus ere long 

Became a patriot ; and my heart was all 

Given to the people, and my love was theirs. 

A band of military Officers, 
Then stationed in the city, were the chief 
Of my associates : some of these wore swords 
That had been seasoned in the wars, and all 
Were men well-born ; the chivalry of France. 
In age and temper differing, they had yet 130 

One spirit ruling in each heart ; alike 
(Save only one, hereafter to be named) 
Were bent upon undoing what was done : 
This was their rest and only hope ; therewith 
No fear had they of bad becoming worse, 
For worst to them was come ; nor would have stirred, 
Or deemed it worth a moment's thought to stir, 
In anything, save only as the act 
Looked thitherward. One, reckoning by years, 
Was in the prime of manhood, and erewhile 140 

He had sate lord in many tender hearts ; 



182 THE PRELUDE. 

Though heedless of such honors now, and changed : 

His temper was quite mastered by the times, 

And they had blighted him, had eaten away 

The beauty of his person, doing wrong 

Alike to body and to mind : his port, 

Which once had been erect and open, now 

Was stooping and contracted, and a face, 

Endowed by Nature with her fairest gifts 

Of symmetry and light and bloom, expressed, 150 

As much as any that was ever seen, 

A ravage out of season, made by thoughts 

Unhealthy and vexatious. With the hour 

That from the press of Paris duly brought 

Its freight of public news, the fever came, 

A punctual visitant, to shake this man, 

Disarmed his voice and fanned his yellow cheek 

Into a thousand colors ; while he read, 

Or mused, his sword was haunted by his touch 

Continually, like an uneasy place 160 

In his own body. 'Twas in truth an hour 

Of universal ferment ; mildest men 

Were agitated ; and commotions, -strife 

Of passion and opinion, filled the walls 

Of peaceful houses with unquiet sounds. 

The soil of common life was, at that time, 

Too hot to tread upon. Oft said I then, 

And not then only, " What a mockery this 

Of history, the past and that to come ! 

Now do I feel how all men are deceived, 170 

Reading of nations and their works, in faith, 

Faith given to vanity and emptiness : 



BOOK NINTH. 183 

Oh ! laughter for the page that would reflect 

To future times the face of what now is ! " 

The land all swarmed with passion, like a plain 

Devoured by locusts, Carra, Gorsas, add 

A hundred other names, forgotten now 

Nor to be heard of more ; yet, they were powers, 

Like earthquakes, shocks repeated day by day, 

And felt through every nook of town and field. 180 

Such was the state of things. Meanwhile the chief 
Of my associates stood prepared for flight, 
To augment the band of emigrants in arms 
Upon the borders of the Rhine, and leagued 
With foreign foes mustered for instant war. 
This was their undisguised intent, and they 
Were waiting with the whole of their desires 
The moment to depart. 

An Englishman, 

Born in a land whose very name appeared 
To license some unruliness of mind ; 190 

A stranger, with youth's further privilege, 
And the indulgence that a half-learnt speech 
Wins from the courteous ; I, who had been else 
Shunned and not tolerated, freely lived 
With these defenders of the Crown, and talked, 
And heard their notions ; nor did they disdain 
The wish to bring me over to their cause. 

But though untaught by thinking or by books 
To reason well of polity or law, 



184 THE PRELUDE. 

And nice distinctions, then on every tongue, 
Of natural rights and civil ; and to acts 
Of nations and their passing interests, 
(If with unworldly ends and aims compared) 
Almost indifferent, even the historian's tale 
Prizing but little otherwise than I prized 
Tales of the poets, as it made the heart 
Beat high, and filled the fancy with fair forms, 
Old heroes and their sufferings and their deeds, 
Yet in the regal sceptre, and the pomp 
Of orders and degrees, I nothing found 
Then, or had ever, even in crudest youth, 
That dazzled me, but rather what I mourned 
And ill could brook, beholding that the best 
Ruled not, and feeling that they ought to rule. 

For, born in a poor district, and which yet 
Retaineth more of ancient homeliness 
Than any other nook of English ground, 
It was my fortune scarcely to have seen, 
Through the whole tenor of my school-day time, 
The face of one who, whether boy or man, 
Was vested with attention or respect 
Through claims of wealth or blood ; nor was it least 
Of many benefits, in later years 
Derived from academic institutes 
And rules, that they held something up to view 
Of a Republic, where all stood thus far 
Upon equal ground ; that we were brothers all 
In honor, as in one community, 
Scholars and gentlemen ; where, furthermore, 



BOOK NINTH. 185 

Distinction open lay to all that came, 230 

And wealth and titles were in less esteem 

Than talents, worth, and prosperous industry. 

Add unto this, subservience from the first 

To presences of God's mysterious power 

Made manifest in Nature's sovereignty, 

And fellowship with venerable books, 

To sanction the proud workings of the soul, 

And mountain liberty. It could not be 

But that one tutored thus should look with awe 

Upon the faculties of man, receive 240 

Gladly the highest promises, and hail, 

As best, the government of equal rights 

And individual worth. And hence, O Friend ! 

If at the first great outbreak I rejoiced 

Less than might well befit my youth, the cause 

In part lay here, that unto me the events 

Seemed nothing out of nature's certain course, 

A gift that was come rather late than soon. 

No wonder, then, if advocates like these, 

Inflamed by passion, blind with prejudice, 250 

And stung with injury at this riper day, 

Were impotent to make my hopes put on 

The shape of theirs, my understanding bend 

In honor to their honor : zeal, which yet 

Had slumbered, now in opposition burst 

Forth like a Polar summer : every word 

They uttered was a dart, by counter-winds 

Blown back upon themselves ; their reason seemed 

Confusion-stricken by a higher power 

Than human understanding, their discourse 260 



186 THE PRELUDE. 

Maimed, spiritless ; and in their weakness strong, 
I triumphed. 

Meantime, day by day, the roads 
Were crowded with the bravest youth of France, 
And all the promptest of her spirits, linked 
In gallant soldiership, and posting on 
To meet the war upon her frontier bounds. 
Yet at this very moment do tears start 
Into mine eyes : I do not say I weep, 
I wept not then, but tears have dimmed my sight, 
In memory of the farewells of that time, 270 

Domestic severings, female fortitude 
At dearest separation, patriot love 
And self-devotion, and terrestrial hope, 
Encouraged with a martyr's confidence ; 
Even files of strangers merely seen but once, 
And for a moment, men from far with sound 
Of music, martial tunes, and banners spread, 
Entering the city, here and there a face 
Or person singled out among the rest, 
Yet still a stranger and beloved as such ; 380 

Even by these passing spectacles my heart 
Was oftentimes uplifted, and they seemed 
Arguments sent from Heaven to prove the cause 
Good, pure, which no one could stand up against, 
Who was not lost, abandoned, selfish, proud, 
Mean, miserable, wilfully depraved, 
Hater perverse of equity and truth. 

Among that band of Officers was one, 
Already hinted at, of other mould 



BOOK NINTH. 187 

A patriot, thence rejected by the rest, 290 

And with an oriental loathing spurned, 

As of a different cast. A meeker man 

Than this lived never, nor a more benign, 

Meek though enthusiastic. Injuries 

Made him more gracious, and his nature then 

Did breathe its sweetness out most sensibly, 

As aromatic flowers on Alpine turf, 

When foot hath crushed them. He through the events 

Of that great change wandered in perfect faith, 

As through a book, an old romance, or tale 300 

Of Fairy, or some dream of actions wrought 

Behind the summer clouds. By birth he ranked 

With the most noble, but unto the poor 

Among mankind he was in service bound, 

As by some tie invisible, oaths professed 

To a religious order. Man he loved 

As man ; and, to the mean and the obscure, 

And all the homely in their homely works, 

Transferred a courtesy which had no air 

Of condescension ; but did rather seem 310 

A passion and a gallantry, like that 

Which he, a soldier, in his idler day 

Had paid to woman : somewhat vain he was, 

Or seemed so, yet it was not vanity, 

But fondness, and a kind of radiant joy 

Diffused around him, while he was intent 

On words of love or freedom, or revolved 

Complacently the progress of a cause 

Whereof he was a part : yet this was meek 

And placid, and took nothing from the man 320 



188 THE PRELUDE. 

That was delightful. Oft in solitude 

With him did I discourse about the end 

Of civil government, and its wisest forms ; 

Of ancient royalty, and chartered rights, 

Custom and habit, novelty and change ; 

Of self-respect, and virtue in the few 

For patrimonial honor set apart, 

And ignorance in the laboring multitude. 

For he, to all intolerance indisposed, 

Balanced these contemplations in his mind ; 330 

And I, who at that time was scarcely dipped 

Into the turmoil, bore a sounder judgment 

Than later days allowed ; carried about me 

With less alloy to its integrity, 

The experience of past ages, as, through help 

Of books and common life, it makes sure way 

To youthful minds, by objects over near 

Not pressed upon, nor dazzled or misled 

By struggling with the crowd for present ends. 

But though not deaf, nor obstinate to find 340 

Error without excuse upon the side 
Of them who strove against us, more delight 
We took, and let this freely be confessed, 
In painting to ourselves the miseries 
Of royal courts, and that voluptuous life 
Unfeeling, where the man who is of soul 
The meanest thrives the most ; where dignity, 
True personal dignity, abideth not ; 
A light, a cruel, a vain world cut off 
From the natural inlets of just sentiment, 350 



BOOK NINTH. 189 

From lowly sympathy and chastening truth ; 

Where good and evil interchange their names, 

And thirst for bloody spoils abroad is paired 

With vice at home. We added dearest themes 

Man and his noble nature, as it is 

The gift which God has placed within his power, 

His blind desires and steady faculties 

Capable of clear truth, the one to break 

Bondage, the other to build liberty 

On firm foundations, making social life, 360 

Through knowledge spreading and imperishable 

As just in regulation and as pure 

As individual in the wise and good. 

We summed up the honorable deeds 
Of ancient Story, thought of each bright spot, 
That would be found in all recorded time, 
Of truth preserved and error passed away : 
Of single spirits that catch the flame from Heaven, 
And how the multitudes of men will feed 
And fan each other ; thought of sects, how keen 370 
They are to put the appropriate nature on, 
Triumphant over every obstacle 
Of custom, language, country, love, or hate, 
And what they do and suffer for their creed ; 
How far they travel, and how long endure ; 
How quickly mighty Nations have been formed, 
From least beginnings ; how, together locked 
By new opinions, scattered tribes have made 
One body, spreading wide as clouds in heaven. 
To aspirations then of our own minds 380 



190 THE PRELUDE. 

Did we appeal ; and, finally, beheld 
A living confirmation of the whole 
Before us, in a people from the depth 
Of shameful imbecility uprisen, 
Fresh as the morning star. Elate we looked 
Upon their virtues ; saw, in rudest men, 
Self-sacrifice the firmest ; generous love, 
And continence of mind, and sense of right, 
Uppermost in the midst of fiercest strife. 

Oh, sweet it is, in academic groves, 390 

Or such retirement, Friend ! as we have known 
In the green dales beside our Rotha's stream, 
Greta, or Derwent, or some nameless rill, 
To ruminate, with interchange of talk, 
On rational liberty, and hope in man, 
Justice and peace. But far more sweet such toil 
Toil, say I, for it leads to thoughts abstruse 
If nature then be standing on the brink 
Of some great trial, and we hear the voice 
Of one devoted, one whom circumstance 400 

Hath called upon to embody his deep sense 
In action, give it outwardly a shape, 
And that of benediction, to the world 
Then doubt is not, and truth is more than truth, 
A hope it is, and a desire ; a creed 
Of zeal, by an authority Divine 
Sanctioned, of danger, difficulty, or death. 
Such conversation, under Attic shades, 
Did Dion hold with Plato ; ripened thus 
For a Deliverer's glorious task, and such 410 



BOOK NINTH. 191 

He, on that ministry, already bound, 

Held with Eudemus and Timonides, 

Surrounded by adventurers in arms, 

When those two vessels with their daring freight, 

For the Sicilian Tyrant's overthrow, 

Sailed from Zacynthus, philosophic war, 

Led by Philosophers. With harder fate, 

Though like ambition, such was he, O Friend ! 

Of whom I speak. So Beaupuis (let the name 

Stand near the worthiest of Antiquity) 420 

Fashioned his life ; and many a long discourse, 

With like persuasion honored, we maintained : 

He, on his part, accoutred for the worst, 

He perished fighting, in supreme command, 

Upon the borders of the unhappy Loire, 

For liberty, against deluded men, 

His fellow country-men ; and yet most blessed 

In this, that he, for the fate of later times 

Lived not to see, nor what we now behold, 

Who have as ardent hearts as he had then. 430 

Along that very Loire, with festal mirth 
Resounding at all hours, and innocent yet 
Of civil slaughter, was our frequent walk ; 
Or in wide forests of continuous shade, 
Lofty and over-arched, with open space 
Beneath the trees, clear footing many a mile 
A solemn region. Oft amid those haunts, 
From earnest dialogues I slipped in thought, 
And let remembrance steal to other times, 
When, o'er those interwoven roots, moss-clad, 440 



192 THE PRELUDE. 

And smooth as marble or a waveless sea, 

Some Hermit, from his cell forth-strayed, might pace 

In sylvan meditation undisturbed ; 

As on the pavement of a Gothic church 

Walks a lone Monk, when service hath expired, 

In peace and silence. But if e'er was heard, 

Heard, though unseen, a devious traveller, 

Retiring or approaching from afar 

With speed and echoes loud of trampling hoofs 

From the hard floor reverberated, then 450 

It was Angelica thundering through the woods 

Upon her palfrey, or that gentle maid 

Erminia, fugitive as fair as she. 

Sometimes methought I saw a pair of knights 

Joust underneath the trees, that as in storm 

Rocked high above their heads ; anon, the din 

Of boisterous merriment, and music's roar, 

In sudden proclamation, burst from haunt 

Of Satyrs in some viewless glade, with dance 

Rejoicing o'er a female in the midst, 460 

A mortal beauty, their unhappy thrall. 

The width of those huge forests, unto me 

A novel scene, did often in this way 

Master my fancy while I wandered on 

With that revered companion. And sometimes 

When to a convent in a meadow green, 

By a brook-side, we came, a roofless pile, 

And not by reverential touch of Time 

Dismantled, but by violence abrupt 

In spite of those heart-bracing colloquies, 470 

In spite of real fervor, and of that 



BOOK NINTH. 193 

Less genuine and wrought up within myself 

I could not but bewail a wrong so harsh, 

And for the Matin- bell to sound no more 

Grieved, and the twilight taper, and the cross 

High on the topmost pinnacle, a sign 

(How welcome to the weary traveller's eyes !) 

Of hospitality and peaceful rest. 

And when the partner of those varied walks 

Pointed upon occasion to the site 480 

Of Romorentin, home of ancient kings, 

To the imperial edifice of Blois, 

Or to that rural castle, name now slipped 

From my remembrance, where a lady lodged, 

By the first Francis wooed, and bound to him 

In chains of mutual passion, from the tower, 

As a tradition of the country tells, 

Practised to commune with her royal knight 

By cressets and love -beacons, intercourse 

'Twixt her high-seated residence and his 490 

Far off at Chambord on the plain beneath ; 

Even here, though less than with the peaceful house 

Religious, 'mid those frequent monuments 

Of Kings, their vices and their better deeds, 

Imagination, potent to inflame 

At times with virtuous wrath and noble scorn, 

Did also often mitigate the force 

Of civic prejudice, the bigotry, 

So call it, of a youthful patriot's mind ; 

And on these spots with many gleams I looked 500 

Of chivalrous delight. Yet not the less, 

Hatred of absolute rule, where will of one 



194 . THE PRELUDE. 

Is law for all, and of that barren pride 

In them who, by immunities unjust, 

Between the sovereign and the people stand, 

His helper and not theirs, laid stronger hold 

Daily upon me, mixed with pity too 

And love ; for where hope is, there love will be 

For the abject multitude. And when we chanced 

One day to meet a hunger-bitten girl, 510 

Who crept along fitting her languid gait 

Unto a heifer's motion, by a cord 

Tied to her arm, and picking thus from the lane 

Its sustenance, while the girl with pallid hands 

Was busy knitting in a heartless mood 

Of solitude, and at the sight my friend 

In agitation said, " 'Tis against that 

That we are fighting," I with him believed 

That a benignant spirit was abroad 

Which might not be withstood, that poverty 520 

Abject as this would in a little time 

Be found no more, that we should see the earth 

Unthwarted in her wish to recompense 

The meek, the lowly, patient child of toil, 

All institutes forever blotted out 

That legalized exclusion, empty pomp 

Abolished, sensual state and cruel power, 

Whether by edict of the one or few ; 

And finally, as sum and crown of all, 

Should see the people having a strong hand 530 

In framing their own laws ; whence better days 

To all mankind. But these things set apart, 

Was not this single confidence enough 



BOOK NINTH. 195 

To animate the mind that ever turned 

A thought to human welfare? That henceforth 

Captivity by mandate without law 

Should cease ; and open accusation lead 

To sentence in the hearing of the world, 

And open punishment, if not the air 

Be free to breathe in, and the heart of man 540 

Dread nothing. From this height I shall not stoop 

To humbler matter that detained us oft 

In thought or conversation, public acts, 

And public persons, and emotions wrought 

Within the breast, as ever-varying winds 

Of record or report swept over us ; 

But I might here, instead, repeat a tale, 

Told by my Patriot friend, of sad events 

That prove to what low depth had struck the roots, 

How widely spread the boughs of that old tree 550 

Which, as a deadly mischief, and a foul 

And black dishonor, France was weary of. 

Oh, happy time of youthful lovers, (thus 
The story might begin,) oh, balmy time, 
In which a love-knot, on a lady's brow, 
Is fairer than the fairest star in Heaven ! 
So might and with that prelude did begin 
The record ; and, in faithful verse, was given 
The doleful sequel. 

But our little bark 

On a strong river boldly hath been launched ; 560 

And from the driving current should we turn 
To loiter wilfully within a creek, 



1% THE PRELUDE. 

Howe'er attractive, Fellow voyager ! 

Would'st thou chide ? Yet deem not my pains lost : 

For Vaudracour and Julia (so were named 

The ill-fated pair) in that plain tale will draw 

Tears from the hearts of others, when their own 

Shall beat no more. Thou, also, there mayst read, 

At leisure, how the enamoured youth was driven, 

By public power abashed, to fatal crime, 570 

Nature's rebellion against monstrous law ; 

How between heart and heart, oppression thrust 

Her mandates, severing whom true love had joined, 

Harassing both ; until he sank and pressed 

The couch his fate had made for him ; supine, 

Save when the stings of viperous remorse, 

Trying their strength, enforced him to start up, 

Aghast and prayerless. Into a deep wood 

He fled, to shun the haunts of human kind ; 

There dwelt, weakened in spirit more and more ; 580 

Nor could the voice of Freedom, which through France 

Full speedily resounded, public hope, 

Or personal memory of his own worst wrongs, 

Rouse him ; but, hidden in those gloomy shades, 

His days he wasted, an imbecile mind. 



BOOK TENTH. 



RESIDENCE IN FRANCE. Continued. 

IT was a beautiful and silent day 

That overspread the countenance of earth, 

Then fading with unusual quietness, 

A day as beautiful as e'er was given 

To soothe regret, though deepening what it soothed, 

When by the gliding Loire I paused, and cast 

Upon his rich domains, vineyard and tilth, 

Green meadow-ground, and many-colored woods, 

Again, and yet again, a farewell look ; 

Then from the quiet of that scene passed on, i 

Bound to the fierce Metropolis. From his throne 

The King had fallen, and that invading host 

Presumptuous cloud, on whose black front was written 

The tender mercies of the dismal wind 

That bore it on the plains of Liberty 

Had burst innocuous. Say in bolder words, 

They who had come elate as eastern hunters 

Banded beneath the Great Mogul, when he 

Erewhile went forth from Agra or Lahore, 

Rajahs and Omlahs in his train, intent 2 

To drive their prey enclosed within a ring 



198 THE PRELUDE. 

Wide as a province, but the signal given, 

Before the point of the life-threatening spear 

Narrowing itself by moments they, rash men, 

Had seen the anticipated quarry turned 

Into avengers, from whose wrath they fled 

In terror. Disappointment and dismay 

Remained for all whose fancies had run wjld 

With evil expectations ; confidence 

And perfect triumph for the better cause. 30 

The State, as if to stamp the final seal 
On her security, and to the world 
Show that she was, a high and fearless soul, 
Exulting in defiance, or heart-stung 
By sharp resentment, or belike to taunt 
With spiteful gratitude the baffled League, 
That had stirred up her slackening faculties 
To a new transition, when the King was crushed, 
Spared not the empty throne, and in proud haste 
Assumed the body and venerable name 40 

Of a Republic. Lamentable crimes, 
'Tis true, had gone before this hour, dire work 
Of massacre, in which the senseless sword 
Was prayed to as a judge ; but these were past, 
Earth free from them forever, as was thought, 
Ephemeral monsters, to be seen but once ! 
Things that could only show themselves and die. 

Cheered with this hope, to Paris I returned, 
And ranged, with ardor heretofore unfelt, 
The spacious city, and in progress passed 50 



BOOK TENTH. 199 

The prison where the unhappy Monarch lay, 

Associate with his children and his wife 

In bondage ; and the palace, lately* stormed 

With roar of cannon by a furious host. 

I crossed the square (an empty area then !) 

Of the Carrousel, where so late had lain 

The dead, upon the dying heaped, and gazed 

On this and other spots, as doth a man 

Upon a volume whose contents he knows 

Are memorable, but from him locked up, 60 

Being written in a tongue he cannot read, 

So that he questions the mute leaves with pain, 

And half upbraids their silence. But that night 

I felt most deeply in what world I was, 

What ground I trod on, and what air I breathed. 

High was my room and lonely, near the roof 

Of a large mansion or hotel, a lodge 

That would have pleased me in more quiet times ; 

Nor was it wholly without pleasure then. 

With unextinguished taper I kept watch, 70 

Reading at intervals : the fear gone by 

Pressed on me almost like a fear to come. 

I thought of those September massacres, 

Divided from me by one little month, 

Saw them and touched ; the rest was conjured up 

From tragic fictions or true history, 

Remembrances and dim admonishments. 

The horse is taught his manage, and no star 

Of wildest course but treads back his own steps ; 

For the spent hurricane the air provides 80 

As fierce a successor ; the tide retreats 



200 THE PRELUDE. 

But to return out of its hiding-place 

In the great deep ; all things have second birth ; 

The earthquake Is not satisfied at once ; 

And in this way I wrought upon myself, 

Until I seemed to hear a voice that cried, 

To the whole city, " Sleep no more." The trance 

Fled with the voice to which it had given birth ; 

But vainly comments of a calmer mind 

Promised soft peace and sweet forgetfulness. 90 

The place, all hushed and silent as it was, 

Appeared unfit for the repose of night, 

Defenceless as a wood where tigers roam. 

With early morning towards the Palace-walk 
Of Orleans eagerly I turned ; as yet 
The streets were still ; not so those long Arcades ; 
There, 'mid a peal of ill-matched sounds and cries, 
That greeted me on entering, I could hear 
Shrill voices from the hawkers in the throng, 
Bawling, " Denunciation of the Crimes 100 

Of Maximilian Robespierre ; " the hand, 
Prompt as the voice, held forth a printed speech, 
The same that had been recently pronounced, 
When Robespierre, not ignorant for what mark 
Some words of indirect reproof had been 
Intended, rose in hardihood, and dared 
The man who had an ill surmise of him 
To bring his charge in openness ; whereat, 
When a dead pause ensued, and no one stirred 
In silence of all present, from his seat no 

Louvet walked single through the avenue, 



BOOK TENTH. 201 

And took his station in the Tribune, saying, 

" I, Robespierre, accuse thee ! " Well is known 

The inglorious issue of that charge, and how 

He, who had launched the startling thunderbolt, 

The one bold man, whose voice the attack had sounded, 

Was left without a follower to discharge 

His perilous duty, and retire lamenting 

That Heaven's best aid is wasted upon men 

Who to themselves are false. 

But these are things 120 
Of which I speak, only as they were storm 
Or sunshine to my individual mind, 
No further. Let me then relate that now 
In some sort seeing with my proper eyes 
That Liberty, and Life, and Death would soon 
To the remotest corners of the land 
Lie in the arbitrement of those who ruled 
The capital City ; what was struggled for, 
And by what combatants victory must be won ; 
The indecision on their part whose aim 130 

Seemed best, and the straightforward path of those 
Who in attack or in defence were strong 
Through their impiety my inmost soul 
Was agitated ; yea, I could almost 
Have prayed that throughout earth upon all men, 
By patient exercise of reason made 
Worthy of liberty, all spirits filled 
With zeal expanding in Truth's holy light, 
The gift of tongues might fall, and power arrive 
From the four quarters of the winds to do 140 

For France, what without help she could not do, 



202 THE PRELUDE. 

A work of honor ; think not that to this 
I added, work of safety ; from all doubt 
Or trepidation for the end of things 
Far was I, far as angels are from guilt. 

Yet did I grieve, nor only grieved, but thought 
Of opposition and of remedies : 
An insignificant stranger and obscure, 
And one, moreover, little graced with power 
Of eloquence even in my native speech, 150 

And all unfit for tumult or intrigue, 
Yet would I at this time with willing heart 
Have undertaken for a cause so great 
Service however dangerous. I revolved 
How much the destiny of Man had still 
Hung upon single persons ; that there was, 
Transcendent to all local patrimony, 
One nature, as there is one sun in heaven ; 
That objects, even as they are great, thereby 
Do come within the reach of humblest eyes ; 160 

That Man is only weak through his mistrust 
And want of hope where evidence divine 
Proclaims to him that hope should be most sure ; 
Nor did the inexperience of my youth 
Preclude conviction that a spirit strong 
In hope and trained to noble aspirations, 
A spirit thoroughly faithful to itself, 
Is for Society's unreasoning herd 
A domineering instinct, serves at once 
For way and guide, a fluent receptacle 170 

That gathers up each petty straggling rill 



BOOK TENTH. 203 

And vein of water, glad to be rolled on 

In safe obedience ; that a mind, whose rest 

Is where it ought to be, in self-restraint, 

In circumspection and simplicity, 

Falls rarely in entire discomfiture 

Below its aim, or meets with, from without, 

A treachery that foils it or defeats ; 

And, lastly, if the means on human will, 

Frail human will, dependent should betray 180 

Him who too boldly trusted them, I felt 

That 'mid the loud distractions of the world 

A sovereign voice subsists within the soul, 

Arbiter undisturbed of right and wrong, 

Of life and death, in majesty severe 

Enjoining, as may best promote the aims 

Of truth and justice, either sacrifice, 

From whatsoever region of our cares 

Or our infirm affections Nature pleads, 

Earnest and blind, against the stern decree. 190 

On the other side, I called to mind those truths 
That are the common-places of the schools 
(A theme for boys, too hackneyed for their sires,) 
Yet, with a revelation's liveliness, 
In all their comprehensive bearings known 
And visible to philosophers of old, 
Men who, to business of the world untrained, 
Lived in the shade ; and to Harmodius known 
And his compeer, Aristogiton, known 
To Brutus that tyrannic power is weak, 200 

Hath neither gratitude, nor faith, nor love, 



204 THE PRELUDE. 

Nor the support of good or evil men 
To trust in ; that the godhead which is ours 
Can never utterly be charmed or stilled ; 
That nothing hath a natural right to last 
But equity and reason ; that all else 
Meets foes irreconcilable, and at best 
Lives only by variety of disease. 

Well might my wishes be intense, my thoughts 
Strong and perturbed, not doubting at that time 210 
But that the virtue of one paramount mind 
Would have abashed those impious crests have quelled 
Outrage and bloody power, and in despite 
Of what the People long had been and were 
Through ignorance and false teaching, sadder proof 
Of immaturity, and in the teeth 
Of desperate opposition from without 
Have cleared a passage for just government 
And left a solid birthright to the State, 
Redeemed, according to example given 220 

By ancient lawgivers. 

In this frame of mind, 
Dragged by a chain of harsh necessity, 
So seemed it, now I thankfully acknowledge, 
Forced by the gracious providence of Heaven 
To England I returned, else (though assured 
That I both was and must be of small weight, 
No better than a landsman on the deck 
Of a ship struggling with a hideous storm) 
Doubtless, I should have then made common cause 
With some who perished ; haply perished too, 230 



BOOK TENTH. 205 

A poor mistaken and bewildered offering, 

Should to the breast of Nature have gone back, 

With all my resolutions, all my hopes, 

A Poet only to myself, to men 

Useless, and even, beloved Friend ! a soul 

To thee unknown ! 

Twice had the trees let fall 
Their leaves, as often Winter had put on 
His hoary crown, since I had seen the surge 
Beat against Albion's shore, since ear of mine 
Had caught the accents of my native speech 240 

Upon our native country's sacred ground. 
A patriot of the world, how could I glide 
Into communion with her sylvan shades, 
Erewhile my tuneful haunt? It pleased me more 
To abide in the great City, where I found 
The general air still busy with the stir 
Of that first memorable onset made 
By a strong levy of humanity 
Upon the traffickers in Negro blood ; 
Effort which, though defeated, had recalled 250 

To notice old forgotten principles, 
And through the nation spread a novel heat 
Of virtuous feeling. For myself, I own 
That this particular strife had wanted power 
To rivet my affections ; nor did now 
Its unsuccessful issue much excite 
My sorrow ; for I brought with me the faith 
That, if France prospered, good men would not long 
Pay fruitless worship to humanity, 
And this most rotten branch of human shame, 260 



206 THE PRELUDE. 

Object, so seemed it, of superfluous pains, 

Would fall together with its parent tree. 

What, then, were my emotions, when in arms 

Britain put forth her free-born strength in league, 

Oh, pity and shame ! with those confederate Powers. 

Not in my single self alone I found, 

But in the minds of all ingenuous youth, 

Change and subversion from that hour. No shock 

Given to my moral nature had I known 

Down to that very moment ; neither lapse 270 

Nor turn of sentiment that might be named 

A revolution, save at this one time ; 

All else was progress on the self-same path 

On which, with a diversity of pace, 

I had been travelling : this a stride at once 

Into another region. As a light 

And pliant harebell, swinging in the breeze 

On some gray rock its birth-place so had I 

Wantoned, fast rooted on the ancient tower 

Of my beloved country, wishing not 280 

A happier fortune than to wither there : 

Nor was I from that pleasant station torn 

And tossed about in whirlwind. I rejoiced, 

Yea, afterwards truth most painful to record ! 

Exulted, in the triumph of my soul. 

When Englishmen by thousands were o'erthrown, 

Left without glory on the field, or driven, 

Brave hearts ! to shameful flight. It was a grief, 

Grief call it not, 'twas anything but that, 

A conflict of sensations without name, 290 

Of which he only, who may love the sight 



BOOK TENTH. 207 

Of a village steeple, as I do, can judge, 

When, in the congregation bending all 

To their great Father, prayers were offered up, 

Or praises for our country's victories ; 

And, 'mid the simple worshippers, perchance 

I only, like an uninvited guest 

Whom no one owned, sate silent ; shall I add, 

Fed on the day of vengeance yet to come. 

Oh ! much have they to account for, who could tear, 
By violence, at one decisive rent, 301 

From the best youth in England their dear pride, 
Their joy, in England ; this, too, at a time 
In which worst losses easily might wean 
The best of names, when patriotic love 
Did of itself in modesty give way, 
Like the Precursor when the Deity 
Is come Whose harbinger he was ; a time 
In which apostasy from ancient faith 
Seemed but conversion to a higher creed ; 310 

Withal a season dangerous and wild, 
A time when sage Experience would have snatched 
Flowers out of any hedge-row to compose 
A chaplet in contempt of his gray locks. 

When the proud fleet that bears the red-cross flag 
In that unworthy service was prepared 
To mingle, I beheld the vessels lie, 
A brood of gallant creatures, on the deep ; 
I saw them in their rest, a sojourner 



208 THE PRELUDE. 

Through a whole month of calm and glassy days 320 

In that delightful island which protects 

Their place of convocation ; there I heard, 

Each evening, pacing by the still sea-shore, 

A monitory sound that never failed, 

The sunset cannon. While the orb went down 

In the tranquillity of nature, came 

That voice, ill requiem ! seldom heard by me 

Without a spirit overcast by dark 

Imaginations, sense of woes to come, 

Sorrow for human kind, and pain of heart. 330 

In France, the men who, for their desperate ends, 
Had plucked up mercy by the roots, were glad 
Of this new enemy. Tyrants, strong before 
In wicked pleas, were strong as demons now ; 
And thus, on every side beset with foes, 
The goaded land waxed mad ; the crimes of few 
Spread into madness of the many ; blasts 
From hell became sanctified like airs from heaven. 
The sternness of the just, the faith of those 
Who doubted not that Providence had times 340 

Of vengeful retribution, theirs who throned 
The human Understanding paramount, 
And made of that their God, the hopes of men 
Who were content to barter short-lived pangs 
For a paradise of ages, the blind rage 
Of insolent tempers, the light vanity 
Of intermeddlers, steady purposes 
Of the suspicious, slips of the indiscreet, 
And all the accidents of life were pressed 



BOOK TENTH. 209 

Into one service, busy with one work. 350 

The Senate stood aghast, her prudence quenched, 

Her wisdom stifled, and her justice scared, 

Her frenzy only active to extol 

Past outrages, and shape the way for new, 

Which no one dared to oppose or mitigate. 

Domestic carnage now filled the whole year 
With feast-days ; old men from the chimney-nook, 
The maiden from the bosom of her love, 
The mother from the cradle of her babe, 
The warrior from the field all perished, all 360 
Friends, enemies, of all parties, ages, ranks, 
Head after head, and never heads enough 
For those that bade them fall. They found their joy, 
They made it proudly, eager as a child 
(If like desires of innocent little ones 
May with such heinous appetites be compared), 
Pleased in some open field to exercise 
A toy that mimics with revolving wings 
The motion of a wind-mill : though the air 
Do of itself blow fresh, and make the vanes 370 

Spin in his eyesight, that contents him not, 
But, with the plaything at arm's length, he sets 
His front against the blast, and runs amain, 
That it may whirl the faster. 

Amid the depth 

Of those enormities, even thinking minds 
Forgot, at seasons, whence they had their being ; 
Forgot that such a sound was ever heard 
As Liberty upon earth : yet all beneath 



210 THE PRELUDE. 

Her innocent authority was wrought, 

Nor could have been, without her blessed name. 380 

The illustrious wife of Roland, in the hour 

Of her composure, felt that agony, 

And gave it vent in her last words. O Friend ! 

It was a lamentable time for man, 

Whether a hope had e'er been his or not ; 

A woful time for them whose hopes survived 

The shock ; most woful for those few who still 

Were flattered, and had trust in human kind : 

They had the deepest feeling of the grief. 

Meanwhile the Invaders fared as they deserved : 390 

The Herculean Commonwealth had put forth her arms, 

And throttled with an infant godhead's might 

The snakes about her cradle ; that was well, 

And as it should be ; yet no cure for them 

Whose souls were sick with pain of what would be 

Hereafter brought in charge against mankind. 

Most melancholy at that time, O Friend ! 

Were my day-thoughts, my nights were miserable ; 

Through months, through years, long after the last beat 

Of those atrocities, the hour of sleep 400 

To me came rarely charged with natural gifts, 

Such ghastly visions had I of despair 

And tyranny, and implements of death ; 

And innocent victims sinking under fear, 

And momentary hope, and worn-out prayer, 

Each in his separate cell, or penned in crowds 

For sacrifice, and struggling with fond mirth 

And levity in dungeons, where the dust 

Was laid with tears. Then suddenly the scene 



BOOK TENTH. 211 

Changed, and the unbroken dream entangled me 410 
In long orations, which I strove to plead 
Before unjust tribunals, with a voice 
Laboring, a brain confounded, and a sense, - 
Death-like, of treacherous desertion, felt 
In the last place of refuge my own soul. 

When I began in youth's delightful prime 
To yield myself to Nature, when that strong 
And holy passion overcame me first, 
Nor day nor night, evening or morn, was free 
From its oppression. But, O Power Supreme ! 420 
Without whose call this world would cease to breathe, 
Who from the fountain of Thy grace dost fill 
The veins that branch through every frame of life, 
Making man what he is, creature divine, 
In single or in social eminence, 
Above the rest raised infinite ascents 
When reason that enables him to be 
Is not sequestered what a change is here ! 
How different ritual for this after-worship, 
What countenance to promote this second love ! 430 
The first was service paid to things which lie 
Guarded within the bosom of Thy will. 
Therefore to serve was high beatitude ; 
Tumult was therefore gladness, and the fear 
Ennobling, venerable ; sleep secure, 
And waking thoughts more rich than happiest dreams. 

But as the ancient Prophets, borne aloft 
In vision, yet constrained by natural laws 



212 THE PRELUDE. 

With them to take a troubled human heart, 

Wanted not consolations, nor a creed 440 

Of reconcilement, then when they denounced, 

On towns and cities, wallowing in the abyss 

Of their offences, punishment to come ; 

Or saw, like other men, with bodily eyes, 

Before them, in some desolated place, 

The wrath consummate and the threat fulfilled. 

So, with devout humility be it said, 

So did a portion of that spirit fall 

On me uplifted from the vantage-ground 

Of pity and sorrow to a state of being 450 

That through the time's exceeding fierceness saw 

Glimpses of retribution, terrible, 

And in the order of sublime behests ; 

But, even if that were not, amid the awe 

Of unintelligible chastisement, 

Not only acquiescences of faith 

Survived, but daring sympathies with power, 

Motions not treacherous or profane, else why 

Within the folds of no ungentle breast 

Their dread vibration to this hour prolonged ? 460 

Wild blasts of music thus could find their way 

Into the midst of turbulent events ; 

So that worst tempests might be listened to. 

Then was the truth received into my heart, 

That, under heaviest sorrow earth can bring, 

If from the affliction somewhere do not grow 

Honor which could not else have been, a faith, 

An elevation, and a sanctity, 

If new strength be not given nor old restored, 



BOOK TENTH. 213 

The blame is ours, not Nature's. When a taunt 470 

Was taken up by scoffers in their pride, 

Saying, " Behold the harvest that we reap 

From popular government and equality," 

I clearly saw that neither these nor aught 

Of wild belief engrafted on their names 

By false philosophy had caused the woe, 

But a terrible reservoir of guilt 

And ignorance filled up from age to age, 

That could no longer hold its loathsome charge, 

But burst and spread in deluge through the land. 480 

And as the desert hath green spots, the sea 
Small islands scattered amid stormy waves, 
So that disastrous period did not want 
Bright sprinklings of all human excellence, 
To which the silver wands of saints in Heaven 
Might point with rapturous joy. Yet not the less, 
For those examples, in no age surpassed, 
Of fortitude and energy and love, 
And human nature faithful to herself 
Under worst trials, was I driven to think 490 

Of the glad times when first I traversed France 
A youthful pilgrim ; above all reviewed 
That eventide, when under windows bright 
With happy faces and with garlands hung, 
And through a rainbow-arch that spanned the street, 
Triumphal pornp for liberty confirmed, 
I paced, a dear companion at my side, 
The town of Arras, whence with promise high 
Issued, on delegation to sustain 



214 THE PRELUDE. 

Humanity and right, that Robespierre, 500 

He who thereafter, and in how short time ! 

Wielded the sceptre of the Atheist crew. 

When the calamity spread far and wide 

And this same city, that did then appear 

To outrun the rest in exultation, groaned 

Under the vengeance of her cruel son, 

As Lear reproached the winds I could almost 

Have quarrelled with that blameless spectacle 

For lingering yet an image in my mind 

To mock me under such a strange reverse. 510 

O Friend ! few happier moments have been mine 
Than that which told the downfall of this Tribe 
So dreaded, so abhorred. The day deserves 
A separate record. Over the smooth sands 
Of Leven's ample estuary lay 
My journey, and beneath a genial sun, 
With distant prospect among gleams of sky 
And clouds, and intermingling mountain tops, 
In one inseparable glory clad, 

Creatures of one ethereal substance met 520 

In consistory, like a diadem 
Or crown of burning seraphs as they sit 
In the empyrean. Underneath that pomp 
Celestial, lay unseen the pastoral vales 
Among whose happy fields I had grown up 
From childhood. On the fulgent spectacle, 
That neither passed away nor changed, I gazed 
Enrapt ; but brightest things are wont to draw 
Sad opposites out of the inner heart, 



BOOK TENTH. 215 

As even their pensive influence drew from mine. 530 

How could it otherwise ? for not in vain 

That very morning had I turned aside 

To seek the ground where, 'mid a throng of graves, 

An honored teacher of my youth was laid, 

And on the stone were graven by his desire 

Lines from the churchyard elegy of Gray. 

This faithful guide, speaking from his death-bed, 

Added no farewell to his parting counsel, 

But said to me, " My head will soon lie low ; " 

And when I saw the turf that covered him, 540 

After the lapse of full eight years, those words, 

With sound of voice and countenance of the Man, 

Came back upon me, so that some few tears 

Fell from me in my own despite. But now 

I thought, still traversing that widespread plain, 

With tender pleasure of the verses graven 

Upon this tombstone, whispering to myself. 

He loved the Poets, and, if now alive, 

Would have loved me, as one not destitute 

Of promise, nor belying the kind hope 550 

That he had formed, when I, at his command, 

Began to spin, with toil, my earliest songs. 

As I advanced, all that I saw or felt 
Was gentleness and peace. Upon a small 
And rocky island near, a fragment stood 
(Itself like a sea rock), the low remains 
(With shells encrusted, dark with briny weeds) 
Of a dilapidated structure, once 
A Romish chapel, where the vested priest 



216 THE PRELUDE. 

Said matins at the hour that suited those 560 

Who crossed the sands with ebb of morning tide. 

Not far from that still ruin all the plain 

Lay spotted with a variegated crowd 

Of vehicles and travellers, horse and foot, 

Wading beneath the conduct of their guide 

In loose procession through the shallow stream 

Of inland waters ; the great sea meanwhile 

Heaved at safe distance, far retired. I paused, 

Longing for skill to paint a scene so bright 

And cheerful, but the foremost of the band 570 

As he approached, no salutation given 

In the familiar language of the day, 

Cried, " Robespierre is dead ! " nor was a doubt, 

After strict question, left within my mind 

That he and his supporters all were fallen. 

Great was my transport, deep my gratitude 
To everlasting Justice, by this fiat 
Made manifest. " Come now, ye golden times," 
Said I forth-pouring on those open Sands 
A hymn of triumph : " as the morning comes 580 

From out the bosom of the night, come ye : 
Thus far our trust is verified ; behold ! 
They who with clumsy desperation, brought 
A river of Blood, and preached that nothing else 
Could cleanse the Augean stable by the might 
Of their own helper have been swept away ; 
Their madness stands declared and visible ; 
Elsewhere will safety now be sought, and earth 
March firmly towards righteousness and peace." 



BOOK TENTH. 217 

Then schemes I framed more calmly, when and how 590 

The madding factions might be tranquillized, 

And how through hardships manifold and long 

The glorious renovation would proceed. 

Thus interrupted by uneasy bursts 

Of exultation, I pursued my way 

Along that very shore which I had skimmed 

In former days, when spurring from the Vale 

Of Nightshade and St. Mary's mouldering fane, 

And the stone abbot, after circuit made 

In wantonness of heart, a joyous band 600 

Of school-boys hastening to their distant home 

Along the margin of the moonlight sea : 

We beat with thundering hoofs the level sand. 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 



FRANCE. Concluded. 

FROM that time forward, Authority in France 
Put on a milder face ; Terror had ceased, 
Yet everything was wanting that might give 
Courage to them who looked for good by light 
Of rational Experience, for the shoots 
And hopeful blossoms of a second spring ; 
Yet, in me, confidence was unimpaired ; 
The Senate's language, and the public acts 
And measures of the Government, though both 
Weak, and of heartless omen, had not power 
To daunt me ; in the People was my trust : 
And in the virtues which mine eyes had seen, 
I knew that wound external could not take 
Life from the young Republic ; that new foes 
Would only follow, in the path of shame, 
Their brethren, and her triumphs be in the end 
Great, universal, irresistible. * 

This intuition led me to confound 
One victory with another, higher far, 
Triumphs of unambitious peace at home, 
And noiseless fortitude. Beholding still 



X 
BOOK ELEVENTH. 219 

Resistance strong as heretofore, I thought 

That what was in degree the same was likewise 

The same in quality, that, as the worse 

Of the two spirits then at strife remained 

Untired, the better, surely, would preserve 

The heart that first had roused him. Youth maintains, 

In all conditions of society, 

Communion more direct and intimate 

With Nature, hence, ofttimes, with reason too 30 

Than age or manhood, even. To Nature, then, 

Power had reverted, habit, custom, law, 

Had left an interregnum's open space, 

For her to move about in, uncontrolled. 

Hence could I see how Babel-like their task, 

Who, by the recent deluge stupefied, 

With their whole souls went culling from the day 

Its petty promises, to build a tower 

For their own safety ; laughed with my compeers 

At gravest heads, by enmity to France 40 

Distempered, till they found, in every blast 

Forced from the street-disturbing newsman's horn, 

For her great cause record or prophecy 

Of utter ruin. How might we believe 

That wisdom could, in any shape, come near 

Men clinging to delusions so insane? 

And thus, experience proving that no few 

Of our opinions had been just, we took 

Like credit to ourselves where less was due, 

And thought that other notions were as sound, 50 

Yea, could not but be right, because we saw 

That foolish men opposed them. 



220 THE PRELUDE. 

To a strain 

More animated I might here give way, 
And tell, since juvenile errors are my theme, 
What in those days, through Britain, was performed 
To turn all judgments out of their right course ; 
But this is passion over-near ourselves, 
Reality too close and too intense, 
And intermixed with something, in my mind, 
Of scorn and condemnation personal, 60 

That would profane the sanctity of verse. 
Our Shepherds, this say, merely, at that time 
Acted, or seemed at least to act, like men 
Thirsting to make the guardian crook of law 
A tool of murder ; they who ruled the State, 
Though with such awful proof before their eyes 
That he, who would sow death, reaps death, or worse, 
And can reap nothing better, child-like longed 
To imitate, not wise enough to avoid ; 
Or left (by mere timidity betrayed) 73 

The plain straight road, for one no better chosen 
Than if their wish had been to undermine 
Justice, and make an end of Liberty. 

But from these bitter truths I must return 
To my own history. It hath been told 
That I was led to take an eager part 
In arguments of civil polity, 
Abruptly, and indeed before my time : 
I had approached, like other youths, the shield 
Of human nature from the golden side, 80 

And would have fought, even to the death, to attest 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 221 

The quality of the metal which I saw. 

What there is best in individual man, 

Of wise in passion, and sublime in power, 

Benevolent in small societies, 

And great in large ones, I had oft revolved, 

Felt deeply, but not thoroughly understood 

By reason : nay, far from it ; they were yet, 

As cause was given me afterwards to learn, 

Not proof against the injuries of the day ; 90 

Lodged only at the sanctuary's door, 

Not safe within its bosom. Thus prepared, 

And with such general insight into evil, 

And of the bounds which sever it from good, 

As books and common intercourse with life 

Must needs have given to the inexperienced mind, 

When the world travels in a beaten road, 

Guide faithful as is needed I began 

To meditate with ardor on the rule 

And management of nations ; what it is 100 

And ought to be ; and strove to learn how far 

Their power or weakness, wealth or poverty, 

Their happiness or misery, depends 

Upon their laws, and fashion of the State. 

O pleasant exercise of hope and joy ! 
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood 
Upon our side, us who were strong in love ! 
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, 
But to be young was very Heaven ! O times, 
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways no 

Of custom, law, and statute, took at once 



222 THE PRELUDE. 

The attraction of a country in romance ! 

When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights 

When most intent on making of herself 

A prime enchantress to assist the work, 

Which then was going forward in her name ! 

Not favored spots alone, but the whole Earth, 

The beauty wore of promise that which sets 

(As at some moments might not be unfelt 

Among the bowers of Paradise itself) 120 

The budding rose above the rose full blown 

What temper at the prospect did not wake 

To happiness unthought of? The inert 

Were roused, and lively natures rapt away ! 

They who had fed their childhood upon dreams, 

The play-fellows of fancy, who had made 

All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength 

Their ministers, who in lordly wise had stirred 

Among the grandest objects of the sense, 

And dealt with whatsoever they found there 130 

As if they had within some lurking right 

To wield it ; they, too, who of gentle mood 

Had watched all gentle motions, and to these 

Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild, 

And in the region of their peaceful selves ; 

Now was it that both found, the meek and lofty 

Did both find helpers to their hearts' desire, 

And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish, 

Were called upon to exercise their skill, 

Not in Utopia, subterranean fields, 140 

Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where ! 

But in the very world, which is the world 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 223 

Of all of us, the place where, in the end, 
We find our happiness, or not at all ! 

Why should I not confess that Earth was then 
To me what an inheritance, new-fallen, 
Seems, when the first time visited, to one 
Who thither comes to find in it his home ! 
He walks about and looks upon the spot 
With cordial transport, moulds it and remoulds, 150 
And is half pleased with things that are amiss, 
'Twill be such joy to see them disappear. 

An active partisan, I thus convoked 
From every object pleasant circumstance 
To suit my ends ; I moved among mankind 
With genial feelings still predominant ; 
When erring, erring on the better part, 
And in the kinder spirit ; placable, 
Indulgent, as not uninformed that men 
See as they have been taught Antiquity 160 

Gives rights to error ; and aware, no less, 
That throwing off oppression must be work 
As well of License as of Liberty ; 
And above all for this was more than all 
Not caring if the wind did now and then 
Blow keen upon an eminence that gave 
Prospect so large into futurity ; 
In brief, a child of Nature, as at first, 
Diffusing only those affections wider 
That from the cradle had grown up with me, 170 

And losing, in no other way than light 
Is lost in light, the weak in the more strong. 



224 THE PRELUDE. 

In the main outline, such it might be said 
Was my condition, till with open war 
Britain opposed the liberties of France. 
This threw me first out of the pale of love ; 
Soured and corrupted, upwards to the source, 
My sentiments ; was not, as hitherto, 
A swallowing up of lesser things in great, 
But change of them into their contraries ; 180 

And thus a way was opened for mistakes 
And false conclusions, in degree as gross, 
In kind more dangerous. What had been a pride 
Was now a shame ; my likings and my loves 
Ran in new channels, leaving old ones dry : 
And hence a blow that, in maturer age, 
Would but have touched the judgment, struck more deep ' 
Into sensations near the heart : meantime, 
As from the first, wild theories were afloat, 
To whose pretensions, sedulously urged, 190 

I had but lent a careless ear, assured 
That time was ready to set all things right, 
And that the multitude, so long oppressed, 
Would be oppressed no more. 

But when events 

Brought less encouragement, and unto these 
The immediate proof of principles no more 
Could be entrusted, while the events themselves, 
Worn out in greatness, stripped of novelty, 
Less occupied the mind, and sentiments 
Could through my understanding's natural growth aoo 
No longer keep their ground, by faith maintained 
Of inward consciousness, and hope that laid 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 225 

Her hand upon her object evidence 

Safer, of universal application, such 

As could not be impeached, was sought elsewhere. 

But now, become oppressors in their turn, 
Frenchmen had changed a war of self-defence 
For one of conquest, losing sight of all 
Which they had struggled for : up mounted now, 
Openly in the eye of earth and heaven, 210 

The scale of liberty. I read her doom, 
With anger vexed, with disappointment sore, 
But not dismayed, nor taking to the shame 
Of a false prophet. While resentment rose 
Striving to hide, what naught could heal the wounds 
Of mortified presumption, I adhered 
More firmly to old tenets, and, to prove 
Their temper, strained them more ; and thus, in heat 
Of contest, did opinions every day 
Grow into consequence, till round my mind 220 

They clung, as if they were its life, nay more, 
The very being of the immortal soul. 

This was the time, when, all things tending fast 
To depravation, speculative schemes 
That promised to abstract the hopes of Man 
Out of his feelings, to be fixed thenceforth 
Forever in a purer element 
Found ready welcome. Tempting region that 
For zeal to enter and refresh herself, 
Where passions had the privilege to work, 230 

And never hear the sound of their own names. 



226 . THE PRELUDE. 

But, speaking more in charity, the dream 

Flattered the young, pleased with extremes, nor least 

With that which makes our Reason's naked self 

The object of its fervor. What delight ! 

How gloriftus ! in self-knowledge and self-rule, 

To look through all the frailties of the world, 

And, with a resolute mastery shaking off 

Infirmities of nature, time, and place, 

Build social upon personal Liberty, 240 

Which, to the blind restraints of general laws 

Superior, magisterially adopts 

One guide, the light of circumstances, flashed 

Upon an independent intellect. 

Thus expectation rose again ; thus hope, 

From her first ground expelled, grew proud once more. 

Oft, as my thoughts were turned to human kind, 

I scorned indifference ; but, inflamed with thirst 

Of a secure intelligence, and sick 

Of other longing, I pursued what seemed 250 

A more exalted nature ; wished that Man 

Should start out of his earthly, worm-like state, 

And spread abroad the wings of Liberty, 

Lord of himself, in undisturbed delight 

A noble aspiration ! yet I feel 

(Sustained by worthier as by wiser thoughts) 

The aspiration, nor shall ever cease 

To feel it ; but return we to our course. 

Enough, 'tis true could such a plea excuse 
Those aberrations had the clamorous friends a6o 

Of ancient Institutions said and done 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 227 

To bring disgrace upon their very names ; 

Disgrace, of which, custom and written law, 

And sundry moral sentiments as props 

Or emanations of those institutes, 

Too justly bore a part. A veil had been 

Uplifted ; why deceive ourselves ? in sooth 

'Twas even so ; and sorrow for the man 

Who either had not eyes wherewith to see, 

Or, seeing, had forgotten ! A strong shock 270 

Was given to old opinions ; all men's minds 

Had felt its power, and mine was both let loose, 

Let loose and goaded. After what hath been 

Already said of patriotic love, 

Suffice it here to add, that, somewhat stern 

In temperament, withal a happy man, 

And therefore bold to look on painful things, 

Free likewise of the world, and thence more bold, 

I summoned my best skill, and toiled, intent 

To anatomize the frame of social life, 280 

Yea, the whole body of society 

Searched to its heart. Share with me, Friend ! the wish 

That some dramatic tale, endued with shapes 

Livelier, and flinging out less guarded words 

Than suit the work we fashion, might set forth 

What then I learned, or think I learned, of truth, 

And the errors into which I fell, betrayed 

By present objects, and by reasonings false 

From their beginnings, inasmuch as drawn 

Out of a heart that had been turned aside 290 

From Nature's way by outward accidents, 

And which was thus confounded, more and more 



228 THE PRELUDE. 

Misguided and misguiding. So I fared, 

Dragging all precepts, judgments, maxims, creeds, 

Like culprits to the bar ; calling the mind, 

Suspiciously, to establish in plain day 

Her titles and her honors ; now believing, 

Now disbelieving ; endlessly perplexed 

With impulse, motive, right and wrong, the ground 

Of obligation, what the rule and whence 300 

The sanction ; till, demanding formal proof, 

And seeking it in every thing, I lost 

All feeling of conviction, and, in fine, 

Sick, wearied out with contrarieties, 

Yielded up moral questions in despair. 

This was the crisis of that strong disease, 
This the soul's last and lowest ebb ; I drooped. 
Deeming our blessed reason of least use 
Where wanted most : " The lordly attributes 
Of will and choice," I bitterly exclaimed, 310 

" What are they but a mockery of a Being 
Who hath in no concerns of his a test 
Of good and evil ; knows not what to fear 
Or hope for, what to covet or to shun : 
And who, if those could be discerned, would yet 
Be little profited, would see, and ask 
Where is the obligation to enforce? 
And, to acknowledged law rebellious, still, 
As selfish passion urged, would act amiss ; 
The dupe of folly, or the slave of crime." 320 

Depressed, bewildered thus, I did not walk, 
With scoffers, seeking light and gay revenge 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 229 

From indiscriminate laughter, nor sate down 

In reconcilement with an utter waste 

Of intellect ; such sloth I could not brook, 

(Too well I loved, in that my spring of life, 

Pains- taking thoughts, and truth, their dear reward) 

But turned to abstract science, and there sought 

Work for the reasoning faculty enthroned 

Where the disturbances of space and time 330 

Whether in matters various, properties 

Inherent, or from human will and power 

Derived find no admission. Then it was 

Thanks to the bounteous Giver of all good ! 

That the beloved Sister in whose sight 

Those days were passed, now speaking in a voice 

Of sudden admonition like a brook 

That did but cross a lonely road, and now 

Is seen, heard, felt, and caught at every turn, 

Companion never lost through many a league 340 

Maintained for me a saving intercourse 

With my true self; for, though bedimmed and changed 

Much, as it seemed, I was no further changed 

Than as a clouded and a waning moon : 

She whispered still that brightness would return, 

She, in the midst of all, preserved me still 

A Poet, made me seek beneath that name, 

And that alone, my office upon earth ; 

And, lastly, as hereafter will be shown, 

If willing audience fail not, Nature's self, 350 

By all varieties of human love 

Assisted, led me back through opening day 

To whose sweet counsels between head and heart 



230 THE PRELUDE. 

Whence grew that genuine knowledge, fraught with peace, 

Which, through the later sinkings of this cause, 

Hath still upheld me, and upholds me now 

In the catastrophe (for so they dream, 

And nothing less), when, finally to close 

And seal up all the gains of France, a Pope 

Is summoned in, to crown an Emperor 360 

This last opprobrium, when we see a people, 

That once looked up in faith, as if to Heaven 

For manna, take a lesson from the dog 

Returning to his vomit ; when the sun 

That rose in splendor, was alive, and moved 

In exultation with a living pomp 

Of clouds his glory's natural retinue 

Hath dropped all functions by the gods bestowed, 

And, turned into a gewgaw, a machine, 

Sets like an Opera phantom. 

Thus, O Friend ! 370 

Through times of honor and through times of shame 
Descending, have I faithfully retraced 
The perturbations of a youthful mind 
Under a long-lived storm of great events 
A story destined for thy ear, who now, 
Among the fallen of nations, dost abide 
Where Etna, over hill and valley, casts 
His shadow stretching towards Syracuse, 
The city of Timoleon ! Righteous Heaven 1 
How are the mighty prostrated ! They first, 380 

They first of all that breathe, should have awaked 
When the great voice was heard from out the tombs 
Of ancient heroes. If I suffered grief 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 231 

For ill-requited France, by many deemed 

A trifler only in her proudest day ; 

Have been distressed to think of what she once 

Promised, now is ; a far more sober cause 

Thine eyes must see of sorrow in a land, 

To the reanimating influence lost 

Of memory, to virtue lost and hope, 390 

Though with the wreck of loftier years bestrewn. 

But indignation works where hope is not, 
And thou, O Friend ! wilt be refreshed. There is 
One great society alone on earth : 
The noble Living and the noble Dead. 

Thine be such converse strong and sanative, 
A ladder for thy spirit to reascend 
To health-and joy and pure contentedness ; 
To me the grief confined, that thou art gone 
From this last spot of earth, where freedom now 400 
Stands single in her only sanctuary ; 
A lonely wanderer art gone, by pain 
Compelled and sickness, at this latter day, 
This sorrowful reverse for all mankind. 
I feel for thee, must utter what I feel : 
The sympathies, erewhile in part discharged, 
Gather afresh, and will have vent again : 
My own delights do scarcely seem to me 
My own delights ; the lordly Alps themselves, 
Those rosy peaks from which the Morning looks 410 
Abroad on many nations, are no more 
Rpr me that image of pure gladsomeness 



232 THE PRELUDE. 

Which they were wont to be. Through kindred scenes, 

For purpose, at a time, how different ? 

Thou tak'st thy way, carrying the heart and soul 

That Nature gives to Poets, now by thought 

Matured, and in the summer of their strength. 

Oh ! wrap him in your shades, ye giant woods, 

On Etna's side ; and thou, O flowery field 

Of Enna ! is there not some nook of thine, 420 

From the first play-time of the infant world 

Kept sacred to restorative delight, 

When from afar invoked by anxious love ? 

Child of the mountains, among shepherds reared, 
Ere yet familiar with the classic page, 
I learnt to dream of Sicily ; and lo, 
The gloom, that, but a moment past, was deepened 
At thy command, at her command gives way ; 
A pleasant promise, wafted from her shores, 
Comes o'er my heart : in fancy I behold 430 

Her seas yet smiling, her once happy vales ; 
Nor can thy tongue give utterance to a name 
Of note belonging to that honored isle, 
Philosopher or Bard, Empedocles, 
Or Archimedes, pure abstracted soul ! 
That doth not yield a solace to my grief: 
And, O Theocritus, so far have some 
Prevailed among the powers of heaven and earth, 
By their endowments, good or great, that they 
Have had, as thou reportest, miracles 440 

Wrought for them in old time : yea, not unmoved, 
When thinking on my own beloved friend, 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 233 

I hear thee tell how bees with honey fed 
Divine Comates by his impious lord 
Within a chest imprisoned ; how they came 
Laden from blooming grove or flowery field, 
And feed him there, alive, month after month, 
Because the goatherd, blessed man ! had lips 
Wet with the Muses' nectar. 

Thus I soothe 

The pensive moments by his calm fireside 450 

And find a thousand bounteous images 
To cheer the thoughts of those I love, and mine. 
Our prayers have been accepted ; thou wilt stand 
On Etna's summit, above earth and sea, 
Triumphant, winning from the invaded heavens 
Thoughts without bound, magnificent designs, 
Worthy of poets who attuned their harps 
In wood or echoing cave, for discipline 
Of heroes ; or, in reverence to the gods, 
'Mid temples, served by sapient priests, and choirs 460 
Of virgins crowned with roses. Not in vain 
Those temples, where they in their ruins yet 
Survive for inspiration, shall attract 
Thy solitary steps : and on the brink 
Thou wilt recline of pastoral Arethuse ; 
Or, if that fountain be in truth no more, 
Then near some other spring which by the name 
Thou gratulatest, willingly deceived 
I see thee linger a glad votary, 
And not a captive pining for his home. 470 



BOOK TWELFTH. 



IMAGINATION AND TASTE, HOW IMPAIRED AND 
RESTORED. 

LONG time have human ignorance and guilt 

Detained us, on what spectacles of woe 

Compelled to look, and inwardly impress 

With sorrow, disappointment, vexing thoughts, 

Confusion of the judgment, zeal decayed, 

And, lastly, utter loss of hope itself 

And things to hope for ! Not with these began 

Our song, and not with these our song must end 

Ye motions of delight, that haunt the sides 

Of the green hills ; ye breezes and soft airs, i< 

Whose subtle intercourse with breathing flowers, 

Feelingly watched, might teach Man's haughty race 

How without injury to take, to give 

Without offence ; ye who, as if to show 

The wondrous influence of power gently used, 

Bend the complying heads of lordly pines, 

And, with a touch, shift the stupendous clouds 

Through the whole compass of the sky ; ye brooks, 

Muttering along the stones, a busy noise 



BOOK TWELFTH. 235 

By day, a quiet sound in silent night ; 20 

Ye waves, that out of the great deep steal forth 

In a calm hour to kiss the pebbly shore, 

Not mute, and then retire, fearing no storm ; 

And you, ye groves, whose ministry it is 

To interpose the covert of your shades, 

Even as a sleep, between the heart of man 

And outward troubles, between man himself, 

Not seldom, and his own uneasy heart : 

Oh, that I had a music and a voice 

Harmonious as your own, that I might tell 30 

What ye have done for me. The morning shines. 

Nor heedeth Man's perverseness ; Spring returns, 

I saw the Spring return, and could rejoice, 

In common with the children of love, 

Piping on boughs, or sporting on fresh fields, 

Or boldly seeking pleasure nearer heaven 

On wings that navigate cerulean skies. 

So neither were complacency, nor peace, 

Nor tender yearnings, wanting for my good 

Through these distracted times ; in Nature still 40 

Glorying, I found a counterpoise in her, 

Which when the spirit of evil reached its height 

Maintained for me a secret happiness. 

This narrative, my Friend ! hath chiefly told 
Of intellectual power, fostering love, 
Dispensing truth, and, over men and things, 
Where reason yet might hesitate, diffusing 
Prophetic sympathies of genial faith : 
So was I favored such my happy lot 



236 THE PRELUDE. 

Until that natural graciousness of mind 50 

Gave way to overpressure from the times 

And their disastrous issues. What availed, 

When spells forbade the voyager to land, 

That fragrant notice of a pleasant shore 

Wafted, at intervals, from many a bower 

Of blissful gratitude and fearless love ? 

Dare I avow that wish was mine to see, 

And hope that future times would surely see, 

The man to come, parted, as by a gulph, 

From him who had been ; that I could no more 60 

Trust the elevation which had made me one 

With the great family that still survives 

To illuminate the abyss of ages past, 

Sage warrior, patriot, hero ; for it seemed 

That their best virtues were not free from taint 

Of something false and weak, that could not stand 

The open eye of Reason. Then I said, 

" Go to the Poets, they will speak to thee 

More perfectly of purer creatures ; yet 

If reason be nobility in man, 70 

Can aught be more ignoble than the man 

Whom they delight in, blinded as he is 

By prejudice, the miserable slave 

Of low ambition or distempered love?" 

In such strange passion, if I may once more 
Review the past, I warred against myself 
A bigot to a new idolatry 
Like a cowled monk who hath forsworn the world, 
Zealously labored to cut off my heart 



BOOK TWELFTH. 237 

From all the sources of her former strength ; 80 

And as, by simple waving of a wand, 

The wizard instantaneously dissolves 

Palace or grove, even so could I unsoul 

As readily by syllogistic words 

Those mysteries of being which have made, 

And shall continue evermore to make, 

Of the whole human race one brotherhood. 

What wonder, then, if, to a mind so far 
Perverted, even the visible Universe 
Fell under the dominion of a taste 90 

Less spiritual with microscopic view 
Was scanned, as I had scanned the moral world ? 

O Soul of Nature ! excellent and fair ! 
That didst rejoice with me, with whom I, too, 
Rejoiced through early youth, before the winds 
And roaring waters, and in lights and shades 
That marched and countermarched about the hills 
In glorious apparition, Powers on whom 
I daily waited, now all eye and now 
All ear ; but never long without the heart 100 

Employed, and man's unfolding intellect : 
O Soul of Nature ! that, by laws divine 
Sustained and governed, still dost overflow 
With an impassioned life, what feeble ones 
Walk on this earth ! how feeble have I been 
When thou wert in thy strength ! Nor this through stroke 
Of human suffering, such as justifies 
Remissness and inaptitude of mind, 



238 THE PRELUDE. 

But through presumption ; even in pleasure pleased 

Unworthily, disliking here, and there no 

Liking ; by rules of mimic art transferred 

To things above all art ; but more, for this, 

Although a strong infection of the age, 

Was never much my habit giving way 

To a comparison of scene with scene, 

Bent overmuch on superficial things, 

Pampering myself with meagre novelties 

Of color and proportion ; to the moods 

Of time and season, to the moral power, 

The affections and the spirit of the place, xao 

Insensible. Nor only did the love 

Of sitting thus in judgment interrupt 

My deeper feelings, but another cause, 

More subtle and less easily explained, 

That almost seems inherent in the creature, 

A twofold frame of body and of mind. 

I speak in recollection of a time 

When the bodily eye, in every stage of life 

The most despotic of our senses, gained 

Such strength in me as often held my mind 130 

In absolute dominion. Gladly here, 

Entering upon abstruser argument, 

Could I endeavor to unfold the means 

Which Nature studiously employs to thwart 

This tyranny, summons all the senses each 

To counteract the other, and themselves, 

And makes them all, and the objects with which all 

Are conversant, subservient in their turn 

To the great ends of Liberty and Power. 



BOOK TWELFTH. 239 

But leave we this ; enough that my delights 140 

(Such as they were) were sought insatiably. 

Vivid the transport, vivid though not profound ; 

I roamed from hill to hill, from rock to rock, 

Still craving combinations of new forms, 

New pleasure, wider empire for the sight, 

Proud of her own endowments, and rejoiced 

To lay the inner faculties asleep. 

Amid the turns and counterturns, the strife 

And various trials of our complex being, 

As we grow up, such thraldom of that sense 150 

Seems hard to shun. And yet I knew a maid, 

A young enthusiast, who escaped these bonds ; 

Her eye was not the mistress of her heart ; 

Far less did rules prescribed by passive taste, 

Or barren intermeddling subtleties, 

Perplex her mind ; but, wise as women are 

When genial circumstance hath favored them, 

She welcomed what was given, and craved no more ; 

Whate'er the scene presented to her view 

That was the best, to that she was attuned 160 

By her benign simplicity of life, 

And through a perfect happiness of soul, 

Whose variegated feelings were in this 

Sisters, that they were each some new delight. 

Birds in the bower, and lambs in the green field, 

Could they have known her, would have loved; 

methought 

Her very presence such a sweetness breathed, 
That flowers, and trees, and even the silent hills, 
And everything she looked on, should have had 



240 THE PRELUDE. 

An intimation how she bore herself 170 

Towards them and to all creatures. God delights 
In such a being ; for, her common thoughts 
Are piety, her life is gratitude. 

Even like this maid, before I was called forth 
From the retirement of my native hills, 
I loved whate'er I saw : nor lightly loved, 
But most intensely ; never dreamt of aught 
More grand, more fair, more exquisitely framed 
Than those few nooks to which my happy feet 
Were limited. I had not at that time 180 

Lived long enough, nor in the least survived 
The first diviner influence of this world, 
As it appears to unaccustomed eyes, 
Worshipping them among the depth of things, 
As piety ordained ; could I submit 
To measured admiration, or to aught 
That should preclude humility and love ? 
I felt, observed, and pondered ; did not judge, . 
Yea, never thought of judging ; with the gift 
Of all this glory filled and satisfied. 190 

And aftenvards, when through the gorgeous Alps 
Roaming, I carried with me the same heart : 
In truth, the degredation howsoe'er 
Induced, effect, in whatsoe'er degree, 
Of custom that prepares a partial scale 
In which the little oft outweighs the great ; 
Or any other cause that hath been named ; 
Or lastly, aggravated by the times 
And their impassioned sounds, which well might make 



BOOK TWELFTH. 241 

The milder minstrelsies of rural scenes 200 

Inaudible was transient ; I had known 

Too forcibly, too early in my life, 

Visitings of imaginative power 

For this to last : I shook the habit off 

Entirely and forever, and again 

In Nature's presence stood, as now I stand, 

A sensitive being, a creative soul. 

There are in our existence spots of time, 
That with distinct pre-eminence retain 
A renovating virtue, whence, depressed 210 

By false opinion and contentious thought, 
*Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight, 
In trivial occupations, and the round 
Of ordinary intercourse, our minds 
Are nourished and invisibly repaired ; 
A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced, 
That penetrates, enables us to mount, 
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen. 
This efficacious spirit chiefly lurks 
Among those passages of life that give 220 

Profoundest knowledge to what point, and how, 
The mind is lord and master outward sense 
The obedient servant of her will. Such moments 
Are scattered everywhere, taking their date 
From our first childhood. I remember well, 
That once, while yet my inexperienced hand 
Could scarcely hold a bridle, with proud hopes 
I mounted, and we journeyed towards the hills : 
An ancient servant of my father's house 



242 THE PRELUDE. 

Was with me, my encourager and guide : 230 

We had not travelled long, ere some mischance 

Disjoined me from my comrade ; and, through fear 

Dismounting, down the rough and stony moor 

I led my horse, and, stumbling on, at length 

Came to a bottom, where in former times 

A murderer had been hung in iron chains. 

The gibbet-mast had mouldered down, the bones 

And iron case were gone ; but on the turf, 

Hard by, soon after that fell deed was wrought, 

Some unknown hand had carved the murderer's name. 

The monumental letters were inscribed 241 

In times long past ; but still, from year to year, 

By superstition of the neighborhood, 

The grass is cleared away, and to this hour 

The characters are fresh and visible ; 

A casual glance had shown them, and I fled, 

Faltering and faint, and ignorant of the road : 

Then, reascending to the bare common, saw 

A naked pool that lay beneath the hills, 

The beacon on the summit, and, more near, 250 

A girl, who bore a pitcher on her head, 

And seemed with difficult steps to force her way 

Against the blowing wind. It was, in truth, 

An ordinary sight ; but I should need 

Colors and words that are unknown to man, 

To paint the visionary dreariness 

Which, while I looked all round for my lost guide, 

Invested moorland waste, and naked pool, 

The beacon crowning the lone eminence, 

The female and her garments vexed and tossed 260 



BOOK TWELFTH. 243 

By the strong wind. When, in the blessed hours 

Of early love, the loved one at my side, 

I roamed, in daily presence of this scene, 

Upon the naked pool and dreary crags, 

And on the melancholy beacon, fell 

A spirit of pleasure and youth's golden gleam ; 

And think ye not with radiance more sublime 

For these remembrances, and for the power 

They had left behind ? So feeling comes in aid 

Of feeling, and diversity of strength 270 

Attends us, if but once we have been strong. 

Oh ! mystery of man, from what a depth 

Proceed thy honors. I am lost, but see 

In simple childhood something of the base 

On which thy greatness stands ; but this I feel, 

That from thyself it comes, that thou must give, 

Else never canst receive. The days gone by 

Return upon me almost from the dawn 

Of life : the hiding-places of man's power 

Open ; I would approach them, but they close. 280 

I see by glimpses now ; when age comes on, 

May scarcely see at all ; and I would give, 

While yet we may, as far as words can give, 

Substance and life to what I feel, enshrining, 

Such is my hope, the spirit of the Past 

For future restoration. Yet another 

Of these memorials : 

One Christmas-time, 
On the glad eve of its dear holidays, 
Feverish, and tired, and restless, I went forth 
Into the fields, impatient for the sight 290 



244 THE PRELUDE. 

Of those led palfreys that should bear us home ; 

My brothers and myself. There rose a crag, 

That, from the meeting-point of two highways 

Ascending, overlooked them both, far stretched ; 

Thither, uncertain on which road to fix 

My expectation, thither I repaired, 

Scout-like, and gained the summit ; 'twas a day 

Tempestuous, dark, and wild, and on the grass 

I sate half sheltered by a naked wall ; 

Upon my right hand couched a single sheep, 300 

Upon my left a blasted hawthorn stood ; 

With those companions at my side, I watched, 

Straining my eyes intensely, as the mist 

Gave intermitting prospect of the copse 

And plain beneath. Ere we to school returned, 

That dreary time, ere we had been ten days 

Sojourners in my father's house, he died, 

And I and my three brothers, orphans then, 

Followed his body to the grave. The event, 

With all the sorrow that it brought, appeared 310 

A chastisement ; and when I called to mind 

That day so lately past, when from the crag 

I looked in such anxiety of hope ; 

With trite reflections of morality, 

Yet in the deepest passion, I bowed low 

To God, Who thus corrected my desires ; 

And, afterwards, the wind and sleety rain, 

And all the business of the elements, 

The single sheep, and the one blasted tree, 

And the bleak music from that old stone wall, 320 

The noise of wood and water, and the mist 



BOOK TWELFTH. 245 

That on the line of each of those two roads 

Advanced in such indisputable shapes ; 

All these were kindred spectacles and sounds 

To which I oft repaired, and thence would drink, 

As at a fountain ; and on winter nights, 

Down to this very time, when storm and rain 

Beat on my roof, or, haply, at noon- day, 

While in a grove I walk, whose lofty trees, 

Laden with summer's thickest foliage, rock 330 

In a strong wind, some working of the spirit, 

Some inward agitations thence are brought, 

Whate'er their office, whether to beguile 

Thoughts over busy in the course they took, 

Or animate an hour of vacant ease. 



BOOK THIRTEENTH. 



IMAGINATION AND TASTE, HOW IMPAIRED AND 
RESTORED. Concluded. 

FROM Nature doth emotiqn come, and moods 

Of calmness equally are Nature's gift : 

This is her glory ; these two attributes 

Are sister horns that constitute her strength. 

Hence Genius, born to thrive by interchange 

Of peace and excitation, finds in her 

His best and purest friend ; from her receives 

That energy by which he seeks the truth, 

From her that happy stillness of the mind 

Which fits him to receive it when unsought. n 

Such benefit the humblest intellects 
Partake of, each in their degree ; 'tis mine 
To speak, what I myself have known and felt ; 
Smooth task ! for words find easy way, inspired 
By gratitude, and confidence in truth. 
Long time in search of knowledge did I range 
The field of human life, in heart and mind 
Benighted ; but, the dawn beginning now 
To reappear, 'twas proved that not in vain 



BOOK THIRTEENTH. 247 

I had been taught to reverence a Power 20 

That is the visible quality and shape 

And image of right reason ; that matures 

Her processes by steadfast laws ; gives birth 

To no impatient or fallacious hopes, 

No heat of passion or excessive zeal, 

No vain conceits : provokes to no quick turns 

Of self-applauding intellect ; but trains 

To meekness, and exalts by humble faith ; 

Holds up before the mind intoxicate 

With present objects, and the busy dance 30 

Of things that pass away, a temperate show 

Of objects that endure ; and by this course 

Disposes her, when over-fondly set 

On throwing off incumbrances, to seek 

In man, and in the frame of social life, 

Whate'er there is desirable and good 

Of kindred permanence, unchanged in form 

And function, or, through strict vicissitude 

Of life and death, revolving. Above all 

Were re-established now those watchful thoughts 40 

Which, seeing little worthy or sublime 

In what the Historian's pen so much delights 

To blazon power and energy detached 

From moral purpose early tutored me 

To look with feelings of fraternal love 

Upon the unassuming things that hold 

A silent station in this beauteous world. 

Thus moderated, thus composed, I found 
Once more in Man an object of delight, 



248 THE PRELUDE. 

Of pure imagination, and of love ; 50 

And, as the horizon of my mind enlarged, 

Again I took the intellectual eye 

For my instructor, studious more to see 

Great truths, than touch and handle little ones. 

Knowledge was given accordingly ; my trust 

Became more firm in feelings that had stood 

The test of such a trial ; clearer far 

My sense of excellence of right and wrong : 

The promise of the present time retired 

Into its true proportion ; sanguine schemes, 60 

Ambitious projects, pleased me less ; I sought 

For present good in life's familiar face, 

And built thereon my hopes of good to come. 

With settling judgments now of what would last 
And what would disappear ; prepared to find 
Presumption, folly, madness, in the men 
Who thrust themselves upon the passive world 
As Rulers of the world ; to see in these, 
Even when the public welfare is their aim, 
Plans without thought, or built on theories 70 

Vague and unsound ; and having brought the books 
Of modern statists to their proper test, 
Life, human life, with all its sacred claims 
Of sex and age, and heaven-descended rights, 
Mortal, of those beyond the reach of death ; 
And having thus discerned how dire a thing 
Is worshipped in that idol proudly named 
" The Wealth of Nations," where alone that wealth 
Is lodged, and how increased ; and having gained 



BOOK THIRTEENTH. 249 

A more judicious knowledge of the worth 80 

And dignity of individual man, 

No composition of the brain, but man 

Of whom we read, the man whom we behold 

With our own eyes I could not but inquire 

Not with less interest than heretofore, 

But greater, though in spirit more subdued 

Why is this glorious creature to be found 

One only in ten thousand ? What one is, 

Why may not millions be ? What bars are thrown 

By Nature in the way of such a hope ? 90 

Our animal appetites and daily wants, 

Are these obstructions insurmountable ? 

If not, then others vanish into air. 

" Inspect the basis of the social pile : 

Inquire," said I, " how much of mental power 

And genuine virtue they possess who live 

By bodily toil, labor exceeding far 

Their due proportion, under all the weight 

Of that injustice, which upon ourselves 

Ourselves entail." Such estimate to frame 100 

I chiefly looked (what need to look beyond?) 

Among the natural abodes of men, 

Fields with their rural works ; recalled to mind 

My earliest notices ; with these compared 

The observations made in later youth, 

And to that day continued. For the time 

Had never been when throes of mighty Nations 

And the world's tumult unto me could yield, 

How far soe'er transported and possessed, 

Full measure of content ; but still I craved no 



250 THE PRELUDE. 

An intermingling of distinct regards 

And truths of individual sympathy 

Nearer ourselves. Such often might be gleaned 

From the great City, else it must have proved 

To me a heart-depressing wilderness ; 

But much was wanting : therefore did I turn 

To you, ye pathways, and ye lonely roads ; 

Sought you enriched with everything I prized, 

With human kindnesses and simple joys. 



Oh ! next to one dear state of bliss, vouchsafed 120 
Alas ! to few in this untoward world, 
The bliss of walking daily in life's prime 
Through field or forest with the maid we love, 
While yet our hearts are young, while yet we breathe 
Nothing but happiness, in some low nook, 
Deep vale, or anywhere, the home of both, 
From which it would be misery to stir : 
Oh ! next to such enjoyment of our youth, 
In my esteem, next to such dear delight, 
Was that of wandering on from day to day 130 

Where I could meditate in peace, and cull 
Knowledge that step by step might lead me on 
To wisdom ; or, as lightsome as a bird 
Wafted upon the wind from distant lands, 
Sing notes of greeting to strange fields or groves, 
Which lacked not voice to welcome me in turn : 
And, when that pleasant toil had ceased to please, 
Converse with men, where if we meet a face 
We almost meet a friend, on naked heaths 



BOOK THIRTEENTH. 251 

With long long ways before, by cottage bench, 140 

Or well-spring where the weary traveller rests. 

Who doth not love to follow with his eye 
The windings of a public way ? the sight, 
Familiar object as it is, hath wrought 
On my imagination since the morn 
Of childhood, when a disappearing line 
One daily present to my eyes, that crossed 
The naked summit of a far-off hill 
Bejond the limits that my feet had trod, 
Was like an invitation into space 150 

Boundless, or guide into eternity. 
Yes, something of the grandeur which invests 
The mariner who sails the roaring sea 
Through storm and darkness, early in my mind 
Surrounded, too, the wanderers of the earth ; 
Grandeur as much, and loveliness far more. 
Awed have I been by strolling Bedlamites ; 
From many other uncouth vagrants (passed 
In fear) have walked with quicker step ; but why 
Take note of this? When I began to enquire, 160 

To watch and question those I met, and speak 
Without reserve to them, the lonely roads 
Were open schools in which I daily read 
With most delight the passions of mankind, 
Whether by words, looks, sighs, or tears, revealed ; 
There saw into the depth of human souls, 
Souls that appear to have no depth at all 
To careless eyes. And now convinced at heart 
How little those formalities, to which 



252 THE PRELUDE. 

With overweening trust alone we give 170 

The name of Education, have to do 

With real feeling and just sense ; how vain 

A correspondence with the talking world 

Proves to the most ; and called to make good search 

If man's estate, by doom of Nature yoked 

With toil, be therefore yoked with ignorance ; 

If virtue be indeed so hard to rear, 

And intellectual strength so rare a boon 

I prized such walks still more, for there I found 

Hope to my hope, and to my pleasure peace 180 

And steadiness, and healing and repose 

To every angry passion. There I heard, 

From mouths of men obscure and lowly, truths 

Replete with honor ; sounds in unison 

With loftiest promises of good and fair. 

There are who think that strong affection, love 
Known by whatever name, is falsely deemed 
A gift, to use a term which they would use, 
Of vulgar nature ; that its growth requires 
Retirement, leisure, language purified 190 

By manners studied and elaborate ; 
That whoso feels such passion in its strength 
Must live within the very light and air 
Of courteous usages refined by art. 
True is it, where oppression worse than death 
Salutes the being at his birth, where grace 
Of culture hath been utterly unknown, 
And poverty and labor in excess 
From day to day pre-occupy the ground 



BOOK THIRTEENTH. 253 

Of the affections, and to Nature's self 200 

Oppose a deeper nature ; there, indeed, 

Love cannot be ; nor does it thrive with ease 

Among the close and overcrowded haunts 

Of cities, where the human heart is sick, 

And the eye feeds it not, and cannot feed. 

Yes, in those wanderings deeply did I feel 

How we mislead each other ; above all, 

How books mislead us, seeking their reward 

From judgments of the wealthy Few, who see 

By artificial lights ; how they debase 210 

The Many for the pleasure of those Few; 

Effeminately level down the truth 

To certain general notions, for the sake 

Of being understood at once, or else 

Through want of better knowledge in the heads 

That framed them ; flattering self-conceit with words, 

That, while they most ambitiously set forth 

Extrinsic differences, the outward marks 

Whereby society has parted man 

From man, neglect the universal heart. 220 

Here, calling up to mind what then I saw, 
A youthful traveller, and see daily now 
In the familiar circuit of my home, 
Here might I pause, and bend in reverence 
To Nature, and the power of human minds, 
To men as they are men within themselves. 
How oft high service is performed within, 
When all the external man is rude in show, 
Not like a temple rich with pomp and gold, 



254 THE PRELUDE. 

But a mere mountain chapel, that protects 230 

Its simple worshippers from sun and shower. 

Of these, said I, shall be my song ; of these, 

If future years mature me for the task, 

Will I record the praises, making verse 

Deal boldly with substantial things ; in truth 

And sanctity of passion, speak of these, 

That justice may be done, obeisance paid 

Where it is due : thus happy shall I teach, 

Inspire ; through unadulterated ears 

Pour rapture, tenderness, and hope, my theme 240 

No other than the very heart of man, 

As found among the best of those who live, 

Not unexalted by religious faith, 

Nor uninformed by books, good books, though few, 

In Nature's presence : thence may I select 

Sorrow, that is not sorrow, but delight ; 

And miserable love, that is not pain 

To hear of, for the glory that redounds 

Therefrom to human kind, and what we are. 

Be mine to follow with no timid step 250 

Where knowledge leads me : it shall be my pride 

That I have dared to tread this holy ground, 

Speaking no dream, but things oracular ; 

Matter not lightly to be heard by those 

Who to the letter of the outward promise 

Do read the invisible soul ; by men adroit 

In speech, and for communion with the world 

Accomplished ; minds whose faculties are then 

Most' active when they are most eloquent, 

And elevated most when most admired. 260 



BOOK THIRTEENTH. 255 

Men may be found of other mould than these, 

Who are their own upholders, to themselves 

Encouragement, ard energy, and will, 

Expressing liveliest thoughts in lively words 

As native passion dictates. Others, too, 

There are among the walks of homely life 

Still higher, men for contemplation framed, 

Shy, and unpractised in the strife of phrase ; 

Meek men, whose very souls perhaps would sink 

Beneath them, summoned to such intercourse : 270 

Theirs is the language of the heavens, the power, 

The thought, the image, and the silent joy ; 

Words are but under- agents in their souls : 

When they are grasping with their greatest strength, 

They do not breathe among them : this I speak 

In gratitude to God, who feeds our hearts 

For his own service ; knoweth, loveth us, 

When we are unregarded by the world. 

Also, about this time did I receive 
Convictions still more strong than heretofore, 280 

Not only that the inner frame is good, 
And graciously composed, but that, no less, 
Nature for all conditions wants not power 
To consecrate, if we have eyes to see, 
The outside of her creatures, and to breathe 
Grandeur upon the very humblest face 
Of human life. I felt that the array 
Of act and circumstance, and visible form, 
Is mainly to the pleasure of the mind 
What passion makes them ; that meanwhile the forms 290 



256 THE PRELUDE. 

Of Nature have a passion in themselves, 

That intermingles with those works of man 

To which she summons him ; although the works 

Be mean, have nothing lofty of their own ; 

And that the Genius of the Poet hence 

May boldly take his way among mankind 

Wherever Nature leads, that he hath stood 

By Nature's side among the men of old, 

And so shall stand forever. Dearest Friend ! 

If thou partake the animating faith 300 

That poets, even as Prophets, each with each 

Connected in a mighty scheme of truth, 

Have each his own peculiar faculty, 

Heaven's gift, a sense that fits him to perceive 

Objects unseen before, thou wilt not blame 

The humblest of this band who dares to hope 

That unto him hath also been vouchsafed 

An insight that in some sort he possesses, 

A privilege whereby a work of his, 

Proceeding from a source of untaught things, 310 

Creative and enduring, may become 

A power like one of Nature's. To a hope 

Not less ambitious once among the wilds 

Of Sarum's Plain, my youthful spirit was raised ; 

There, as I ranged at will the pastoral downs 

Trackless and smooth, or paced the bare white roads 

Lengthening in solitude their dreary line, 

Time with his retinue of ages fled 

Backwards, nor checked his flight until I saw 

Our dim ancestral Past in vision clear ; 320 

Saw multitudes of men, and, here and there, 



BOOK THIRTEENTH. 257 

A single Briton clothed in wolf-skin vest, 

With shield and stone-axe, stride across the wold ; 

The voice of spears was heard, the rattling spear 

Shaken by arms of mighty bone, in strength, 

Long mouldered, of barbaric majesty. 

I called on Darkness but before the word 

Was uttered, midnight darkness seemed to take 

All objects from my sight ; and lo ! again 

The Desert visible by dismal flames ; 330 

It is the sacrificial altar, fed 

With living men how deep the groans ! the voice 

Of those that crowd the giant wicker thrills 

The monumental hillocks, and the pomp 

Is for both worlds, the living and the dead. 

At other moments (for through that wide waste 

Three summer days I roamed) where'er the Plain 

Was figured o'er with circles, lines, or mounds, 

That yet survive, a work, as some divine, 

Shaped by the Druids, so to represent 340 

Their knowledge of the heavens, and image forth 

The constellations gently was I charmed 

Into a waking dream, a reverie 

That, with believing eyes, where'er I turned, 

Beheld long-bearded teachers, with white wands 

Uplifted, pointing to the starry sky, 

Alternately, and plain below, while breath 

Of music swayed their motions, and the waste 

Rejoiced with them and me in those sweet sounds. 

This for the past, and things that may be viewed 35 
Or fancied in the obscurity of years 



258 THE PRELUDE, 

From monumental hints : and thou, O Friend ! 

Pleased with some unpremeditated strains 

That served those wanderings to beguile, hast said 

That then and there my mind had exercised 

Upon the vulgar forms of present things, 

The actual world of our familiar days, 

Yet higher power ; had caught from them a tone, 

An image, and a character, by books 

Not hitherto reflected. Call we this 3&> 

A partial judgment and yet why ? for then 

We were as strangers ; and I may not speak 

Thus wrongfully of verse, however rude, 

Which on thy young imagination, trained 

In the great City, broke like light from far. 

Moreover, each man's Mind is to herself 

Witness and judge ; and I remember well 

That in life's every-day appearances 

I seemed about this time to gain clear sight 

Of a new world a world, too, that was fit 370 

To be transmitted, and to other eyes 

Made visible ; as ruled by those fixed laws 

Whence spiritual dignity originates, 

Which do both give it being and maintain 

A balance, an ennobling interchange 

Of action from without and from within ; 

The excellence, pure function, and best power 

Both of the object seen, and eye that sees. 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 



CONCLUSION. 

IN one of those excursions (may they ne'er 

Fade from remembrance !) through the Northern tracts 

Of Cambria ranging with a youthful friend, 

I left Bethgelert's huts at couching-time, 

And westward took my way, to see the sun 

Rise, from the top of Snowdon. To the door 

Of a rude cottage at the mountain's base 

We came, and roused the shepherd who attends 

The adventurous stranger's steps, a trusty guide ; 

Then, cheered by short refreshment, sallied forth. 10 

It was a close, warm, breezeless summer night, 
Wan, dull, and glaring, with a dripping fog 
Low-hung and thick that covered all the sky ; 
But, undiscouraged, we began to climb 
The mountain-side. The mist soon girt us round, 
And, after ordinary travellers' talk 
With our conductor, pensively we sank 
Each into commerce with his private thoughts : 
Thus did we breast the ascent, and by myself 
Was nothing either seen or heard that checked 20 



260 THE PRELUDE. 

Those musings or diverted, save that once 

The shepherd's lurcher, who, among the crags, 

Had to his joy unearthed a hedgehog, teased 

His coiled-up prey with barkings turbulent. 

This small adventure, for even such it seemed 

In that wild place and at the dead of night, 

Being over and forgotten, on we wound 

In silence as before. With forehead bent 

Earthward, as if in opposition set 

Against an enemy, I panted up 30 

With eager pace and no less eager thoughts. 

Thus might we wear a midnight hour away, 

Ascending at loose distance each from each, 

And I, as chanced, the foremost of the band ; 

When at my feet the ground appeared to brighten 

And with a step or two seemed brighter still ; 

Nor was time given to ask or learn the cause, 

For instantly a light upon the turf 

Fell like a flash, and lo ! as I looked up, 

The Moon hung naked in a firmament 40 

Of azure without cloud, and at my feet 

Rested a silent sea of hoary mist. 

A hundred hills their dusky backs upheaved 

All over this still ocean ; and beyond, 

Far, far beyond, the solid vapors stretched, 

In headlands, tongues, and promontory shapes, 

Into the main Atlantic, that appeared 

To dwindle, and give up his majesty, 

Usurped upon far as the sight could reach. 

Not so the ethereal vault ; encroachment none 50 

Was there, nor loss ; only the inferior stars 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 261 

Had disappeared, or shed a fainter light 

In the clear presence of the full-orbed Moon, 

Who, from her sovereign elevation, gazed 

Upon the billowy ocean, as it lay 

All meek and silent, save that through a rift 

Not distant from the shore whereon we stood, 

A fixed, abysmal, gloomy, breathing-place 

Mounted the roar of waters, torrents, streams 

Innumerable, roaring with one voice ! 60 

Heard over earth and sea, and, in that hour, 

For so it seemed, felt by the starry heavens. 

When into air partially dissolved 
That vision, given to spirits of the night, 
And three chance human wanderers, in calm thought 
Reflected, it appeared to me the type 
Of a majestic intellect, its acts 
And its possessions, what it has and craves, 
What in itself it is, and would become. 
There I beheld the emblem of a mind 70 

That feeds upon infinity, that broods 
Over the dark abyss, intent to hear 
Its voices issuing forth to silent light 
In one continuous stream ; a mind sustained 
By recognitions of transcendent power, 
In sense conducting to ideal form, 
In soul of more than mortal privilege. 
One function, above all, of such a mind 
Had Nature shadowed there, by putting forth, 
'Mid circumstances awful and sublime, 80 

That mutual domination which she loves 



262 THE PRELUDE. 

To exert upon the face of outward things, 

So moulded, joined, abstracted, so endowed 

With interchangeable supremacy, 

That men, least sensitive, see, hear, perceive, 

And cannot choose but feel. The power, which all 

Acknowledge when thus moved, which Nature thus 

To bodily sense exhibits, is the express 

Resemblance of that glorious faculty 

That higher minds bear with them as their own. 90 

This is the very spirit in which they deal 

With the whole compass of the universe : 

They from their native selves can send abroad 

Kindred mutations ; for themselves create 

A like existence ; and, whene'er it dawns 

Created for them, catch it, or are caught 

By its inevitable mastery, 

Like angels stopped upon the wing by sound 

Of harmony from Heaven's remotest spheres. 

Them the enduring and the transient both 100 

Serve to exalt ; they build up greatest things 

From least suggestions ; ever on the watch, 

Willing to work and to be wrought upon, 

They need not extraordinary calls 

To rouse them ; in a world of life they live, 

By sensible impressions not enthralled, 

But by their quickening impulse made more prompt 

To hold fit converse with the spiritual world, 

And with the generations of mankind 

Spread over time, past, present, and to come, no 

Age after age, till Time shall be no more. 

Such minds are truly from the Deity, 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 263 

For they are Powers ; and hence the highest bliss 

That flesh can know is theirs the consciousness 

Of Whom they are, habitually infused 

Through every image and through every thought, 

And all affections by communion raised 

From earth to heaven, from human to divine ; 

Hence endless occupation for the Soul, 

Whether discursive or intuitive ; 120 

Hence cheerfulness for acts of daily life, 

Emotions which best foresight need not fear, 

Most worthy then of trust when most intense. 

Hence, amid ills that vex and wrongs that crush 

Our hearts if here the words of Holy Writ 

May with fit reverence be applied that peace 

Which passeth understanding, that repose 

In moral judgments which from this pure source 

Must come, or will by man be sought in vain. 

Oh ! who is he that hath his whole life long 13 

Preserved, enlarged, this freedom in himself? 
For this alone is genuine liberty : 
Where is the favored being who hath held 
That course unchecked, unerring, and untired, 
In one perpetual progress smooth and bright? 
A humbler destiny have we retraced, 
And told of lapse and hesitating choice, 
And backward wanderings along thorny ways : 
Yet compassed round by mountain solitudes, 
Within whose solemn temple I received 140 

My earliest visitations, careless then 
Of what was given me ; and which now I range, 



264 THE PRELUDE. 

A meditative, oft a suffering man 

Do I declare in accents which, from truth 

Deriving cheerful confidence, shall blend 

Their modulation with these vocal streams 

That, whatsoever falls my better mind, 

Revolving with the accidents of life, 

May have sustained, that, howsoe'er misled, 

Never did I, in quest of right and wrong, 150 

Tamper with conscience from a private aim ; 

Nor was in any public hope the dupe 

Of selfish passions ; nor did ever yield 

Wilfully to mean cares or low pursuits, 

But shrunk with apprehensive jealousy 

From every combination which might aid 

The tendency, too potent in itself, 

Of use and custom to bow down the soul 

Under a growing weight of vulgar sense, 

And substitute a universe of death 160 

For that which moves with light and life informed, 

Actual, divine, and true. To fear and love, 

To love as prime and chief, for there fear ends, 

Be this ascribed ; to early intercourse, 

In presence of sublime or beautiful forms, 

With the adverse principles of pain and joy 

Evil, as one is rashly named by men 

Who know not what they speak. By love subsists 

All lasting grandeur, by pervading love, 

That gone, we are as dust. Behold the fields 170 

In balmy spring-time full of rising flowers 

And joyous creatures ; see that pair, the lamb 

And the lamb's mother, and their tender ways 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 265 

Shall touch thee to the heart ; thou callest this love, 

And not inaptly so, for love it is, 

Far as it carries thee. In some green bower 

Rest, and be not alone, but have thou there 

The One who is thy choice of all the world : 

There linger, listening, gazing, with delight 

Impassioned, but delight how pitiable ! 180 

Unless this love by a still higher love 

Be hallowed, love that breathes not without awe, 

Love that adores, but on the knees of prayer, 

By heaven inspired ; that frees from chains the soul, 

Lifted, in union with the purest, best, 

Of earth-born passions, on the wings of praise 

Bearing a tribute to the Almighty's Throne. 

This spiritual Love acts not nor can exist 
Without Imagination, which, in truth, 
Is but another name for absolute power 190 

And clearest insight, amplitude of mind, 
And Reason in her most exalted mood. 
This faculty hath been the feeding source 
Of our long labor : we have traced the stream 
From the blind cavern whence is faintly heard 
Its natal murmur ; followed it to light 
And open day ; accompanied its course 
Among the ways of Nature, for a time 
Lost sight of it bewildered and engulphed ; 
Then given it greeting as it rose once more 200 

In strength, reflecting from its placid breast 
The works of man, and face of human life ; 
And lastly, from its progress have we drawn 



266 THE PRELUDE. 

Faith in life endless, the sustaining thought 
Of human Being, Eternity, and God. 

Imagination having been our theme, 
So also hath that intellectual Love, 
For they are each in each, and cannot stand 
Dividually. Here must thou be, O man ! 
Power to thyself ; no helper hast thou here ; 210 

Here keepest thou in singleness thy state : 
No other can divide with thee this work : 
No secondary hand can intervene 
To fashion this ability ; 'tis thine, 
The prime and vital principle is thine 
In the recesses of thy nature, far 
From any reach of outward fellowship, 
Else is not thine at all. But joy to him, 
Oh, joy to him who here hath sown, hath laid 
Here, the foundation of his future years ! aao 

For all that friendship, all that love can do, 
Allrfhat a darling countenance can look 
Or dear voice utter, to complete the man, 
Perfect him, made imperfect in himself, 
All shall be his : and he whose soul hath risen 
Up to the height of feeling intellect 
Shall want no humbler tenderness ; his heart 
Be tender as a nursing mother's heart ; 
Of female softness shall his life be full, 
Of humble cares and delicate desires, 230 

Mild interests and gentle sympathies. 

Child of my parents ! Sister of my soul ! 
Thanks in sincerest verse have been elsewhere 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 267 

Poured out for all the early tenderness 

Which I from thee imbibed : and 'tis most true 

That later seasons owed to thee no less ; 

For, spite of thy sweet influence and the touch 

Of kindred hands that opened out the springs 

Of genial thought, in childhood, and in spite 

Of all that unassisted I had marked 240 

In life or nature of those charms minute 

That win their way into the heart by stealth, 

Still, to the very going out of youth, 

I too exclusively esteemed that love, 

And sought that beauty, which, as Milton sings, 

Hath terror in it. Thou didst soften down 

This over-sternness ; but for thee, dear Friend ! 

My soul, too reckless of mild grace, had stood 

In her original self too confident, 

Retained too long a countenance severe ; 250 

A rock with torrents roaring, with the clouds 

Familiar, and a favorite of the stars : 

But thou didst plant its crevices with flowers, 

Hang it with shrubs that twinkle in the breeze, 

And teach the little birds to build their nests 

And warble in its chambers. At a time 

When Nature, destined to remain so long 

Foremost in my affections, had fallen back 

Into a second place, pleased to become 

A handmaid to a nobler than herself, 260 

When every day brought with it some new sense 

Of exquisite regard for common things, 

And all the earth was budding with these gifts 

Of more refined humanity, thy breath, 



268 THE PRELUDE. 

Dear Sister ! was a kind of gentler spring 

That went before my steps. Thereafter came 

One whom with thee friendship had early paired ; 

She came, no more a phantom to adorn 

A moment, but an inmate of the heart, 

And yet a spirit, there for me enshrined 270 

To penetrate the lofty and the low ; 

Even as one essence of pervading light 

Shines, in the brightness of ten thousand stars, 

And the meek worm that feeds her lonely lamp 

Couched in the dewy grass. 

With such a theme, 

Coleridge ! with this my argument, of thee 
Shall I be silent? O capacious Soul ! 
Placed on this earth to love and understand, 
And from thy presence shed the light of love, 
Shall I be mute, ere thou be spoken of ? 280 

Thy kindred influence to my heart of hearts 
Did also find its way. Thus fear relaxed 
Her over-weening grasp ; thus thoughts and things 
In the self-haunting spirit learned to take 
More rational proportions ; mystery, 
The incumbent mystery of sense and soul, 
Of life and death, time and eternity, 
Admitted more habitually a mild 
Interposition a serene delight 

In closelier gathering cares, such as become 290 

A human creature, howsoe'er endowed, 
Poet, or destined for a humbler name ; 
And so the deep and enthusiastic joy, 
The rapture of the hallelujah sent 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 269 

From all that breathes and is, was chastened, stemmed 

And balanced by pathetic truth, by trust 

In hopeful reason, leaning on the stay 

Of Providence ; and in reverence for duty, 

Here, if need be, struggling with storms, and there 

Strewing in peace life's humblest ground with herbs, 300 

At every season green, sweet at all hours. 

And now, O Friend ! this history is brought 
To its appointed close : the discipline 
And consummation of a Poet's mind, 
In everything that stood most prominent, 
Have faithfully been pictured : we have reached 
The time (our guiding object from the first) 
When we may, not presumptuously, I hope, 
Suppose my powers so far confirmed, and such 
My knowledge, as to make me capable 310 

Of building up a Work that shall endure. 
Yet much hath been omitted, as need was ; 
Of books how much ! and even of the other wealth 
That is collected among woods and fields, 
Far more : for nature's secondary grace 
Hath hitherto been barely touched upon, 
The charm more superficial that attends 
Her works, as they present to Fancy's choice 
Apt illustrations of the moral world, 
Caught at a glance, or traced with curious pains. 320 

Finally, and above all, O Friend ! (I speak 
With due regret) how much is overlooked 
In human nature and her subtle ways, 



270 THE PRELUDE. 

As studied first in our own hearts, and then 

In life among the passions of mankind 

Varying their composition and their hue, 

Where'er we move, under the diverse shapes 

That individual character presents 

To an attentive eye. For progress meet, 

Along this intricate and difficult path, 330 

Whate'er was wanting, something had I gained, 

As one of many schoolfellows compelled 

In hardy independence to stand up 

Amid conflicting interests, and the shock 

Of various tempers ; to endure and note 

What was not understood, though known to be ; 

Among the mysteries of love and hate, 

Honor and shame, looking to right and left, 

Unchecked by innocence too delicate, 

And moral notions too intolerant, 340* 

Sympathies too contracted. Hence, when called 

To take a station among men, the step 

Was easier, the transition more secure, 

More profitable also ; for the mind 

Learns from such timely exercise to keep 

In wholesome separation the two natures, 

The one that feels, the other that observes. 

Yet one word more of personal concern ; 
Since I withdrew unwillingly from France, 
I led an undomestic wanderer's life, 350 

In London chiefly harbored, whence I roamed, 
Tarrying at will in many a pleasant spot 
Of rural England's cultivated vales 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 271 

Or Cambrian solitudes. A youth (he bore 

The name of Calvert it shall live, if words 

Of mine can give it life,) in firm belief 

That by endowments not from me withheld 

Good might be furthered in his last decay 

By a bequest sufficient for my needs 

Enabled me to pause for choice, and walk 360 

At large and unrestrained, nor damped too soon 

By mortal cares. Himself no Poet, yet 

Far less a common follower of the world, 

He deemed that my pursuits and labors lay 

Apart from all that leads to wealth, or even 

A necessary maintenance insures, 

Without some hazard to the finer sense : 

He cleared a passage for me, and the stream 

Flowed in the bent of Nature. 

Having now 

Told what best merits mention, further pains 370 

Our present purpose seems not to require, 
And I have other tasks. Recall to mind 
The mood in which this labor was begun, 

Friend ! The termination of my course 
Is nearer now, much nearer ; yet even then, 
In that distraction and intense desire, 

1 said unto the life which I had lived, 

Where art thou? Hear I not a voice from thee, 

Which 'tis reproach to hear? Anon I rose 

As if on wings, and saw beneath me stretched 380 

Vast prospect of the world which I had been 

And was ; and hence this Song, which like a lark 

I have protracted, in the unwearied heavens 



272 THE PRELUDE. 

Singing, and often with more plantive voice 
To earth attempered and her deep-drawn sighs, 
Yet centring all in love, and in the end 
All gratulant, if rightly understood. 



Whether to me shall be allotted life, 
And, with life, power to accomplish aught of worth, 
That will be deemed no insufficient plea 390 

For having given the story of myself, 
Is all uncertain : but, beloved Friend ! 
When, looking back, thou seest, in clearer view 
Than any liveliest sight of yesterday, 
That summer, under whose indulgent skies 
Upon smooth Quantock's airy ridge we roved 
Unchecked, or loitered 'mid her sylvan combs, ^ 

Thou in bewitching words, with happy heart, 
Didst chaunt the vision of that Ancient Man, 
The bright-eyed Mariner, and rueful woes 400 

Didst utter of the Lady Christabel ; 
And I, associate with such labor, steeped 
In soft forgetfulness the livelong hours, 
Murmuring of him who, joyous hap, was found, 
After the perils of his moonlight ride, 
Near the loud waterfall ; or her who sate 
In misery near the miserable Thorn ; 
When thou dost to that summer turn thy thoughts, 
And hast before thee all which then we were, 
To thee, in memory of that happiness, 410 

It will be known, by thee at least, my Friend ! 
Felt, that the history of a Poet's mind 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 273 

Is labor not unworthy of regard : 
To thee the work shall justify itself. 

The last and later portions of this gift 
Have been prepared, not with the buoyant spirits 
That were our daily portion when we first 
Together wantoned in wild Poesy, 
But, under pressure of a private grief, 
Keen and enduring, which the mind and heart, 420 

That in this meditative history 
Have been laid open, needs must make me feel 
More deeply, yet enable me to bear 
More firmly ;- and a comfort now hath risen 
From hope that thou art near, and wilt be soon 
Restored to us in renovated health ; 
When, after the first mingling of our tears, 
'Mong other consolations we may draw 
Some pleasure from the offering of my love. 

Oh ! yet a few short years of useful life, 430 

And all will be complete, thy race be run, 
Thy monument of glory will be raised ; 
Then, though (too weak to tread the ways of truth) 
This age fall back to old idolatry, 
Though men return to servitude as fast 
As the tide ebbs, to ignominy and shame 
By nations sink together, we shall still 
Find solace knowing what we have learnt to know, 
Rich in true happiness if allowed to be 
Faithful alike in forwarding a day 44 

Of firmer trust, joint laborers in the work 



274 THE PRELUDE. 

(Should Providence such grace to us vouchsafe) 

Of their deliverance surely yet to come. 

Prophets of Nature, we to them will speak 

A lasting inspiration, sanctified 

By reason, blest by faith : what we have loved, 

Others will love, and we will teach them how ; 

Instruct them how the mind of man becomes 

A thousand times more beautiful than the earth 

On which he dwells, above this frame of things 450 

(Which, 'mid all revolution in the hopes 

And fears of men, doth still remain unchanged) 

In beauty exalted, as it is itself 

Of quality and fabric more divine. 



CHRONOLOGICAL AND ITINERARY. 



1770. Birth. 

1778. At Hawkshead School. 

1787. At Cambridge. 

1790. Tour through Italy, France, and Switzerland. 

1791. Graduation; Visits London, Wales, and France. 

1792. Return to London. 

1793. At Isle of Wight. 

1 794. At Penrith with Calvert. 

1795. Settled at Racedown. 

1797. Removed to Alfoxden. 

1798. At Goslar in Germany. 

1799. Leaves Goslar, begins Prelude; At Sockburn; Settled at Dove 

Cottage, Grasmere. 

1802. Marriage. 

1803. Tour in Scotland. 

1805. Death of his brother, Captain Wordsworth. 

1808. Removes to Allan Bank, Grasmere, where he writes the Excur- 
sion. 

1811. Removes to the Parsonage, Grasmere. 

1813. Removes to Rydal Mount. 

1814. Second visit to Scotland. 
1820. Visits the Continent. 
1831. Visits Sir Walter Scott. 
1839. Oxford Degree. 

1842. Appointed Poet Laureate. 

1850. Death. 



NOTES. 



BOOK FIRST. 

PREFATORY NOTE. In July, 1797, Coleridge visited Wordsworth, 
for the first time, at Racedown in Dorsetshire, where he and his 
sister had set up their home two years before. The two poets were 
mutually pleased with each other, and they desired to be nearer in 
order to have frequent intercourse, and a month later the Words- 
worths removed to Alfoxden near Nether Stowey, Somersetshire, where 
Coleridge resided. 

The poets rambled over the Quantock Hills and held high com- 
munion. During one of these excursions, feeling the need of money, 
they planned a joint production for the New Monthly Magazine. 
They set about the work in earnest, and selected as a subject the 
"Ancient Mariner," founded upon a dream of one of Coleridge's 
friends. Coleridge supplied most of the incidents and almost all the 
lines. Wordsworth contributed the incident of the killing of the 
albatross and some of the lines. They soon found that their methods 
did not harmonize, and the " Mariner " was left to Coleridge, while 
Wordsworth wrote upon the common incidents of everyday life. When 
the "Mariner" was finished Wordsworth had so many pieces ready 
that they concluded to publish a joint volume, and this they did under 
the title " Lyrical Ballads," with the " Rime of the Ancient Marinere " 
heading the volume. Cottle, the publisher, gave Wordsworth ^30 for 
his poems, and made a separate bargain with Coleridge for the " Mari- 
ner." With the proceeds of their work in their pockets they con- 
cluded to visit Germany and study the language, and in September, 
1798, they went to Hamburg where they met Klopstock, the "German 
Milton." At Hamburg Coleridge left the Wordsworths and went to 



278 NOTES. 

Gottingen, dived into metaphysics, and the world got no more "Ancient 
Mariners." Wordsworth and his sister wintered in Goslar, an old 
imperial town in Hanover. 

Lines i-io. In the spring of 1799 the Wordsworths, after a cold 
dreary winter at Goslar, returned to England ; as they left the city and 
felt the spring breeze fan their cheeks Wordsworth poured forth the 
gladsome strain with which the Prelude opens. This was in his 
thirtieth year. The Prelude was completed in 1805. 

47. Friend: Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 

62. Place: At Sockburn-on-Tees, county Durham, where, on re- 
turning to England, they visited their kindred, the Hutchinsons. 

72. Vale: Grasmere. 

74. Cottage: While at Sockburn, Wordsworth, with his brother 
John and Coleridge, made a pedestrian tour of the Lake district, and 
it was on this occasion that they saw the cottage which is here mentioned. 
It had once been a public house, with a sign of "The Dove and 
Olive Bough," and is now known as Dove Cottage. It stands on the 
right of the road entering Grasmere from Rydal; it fronts the lake, 
while in the rear is a garden and orchard leading to the wooded moun- 
tains above it. Here still bloom the primroses and daffodils planted by 
the poet, and here he wrote many of his poems. See De Quincey's 
Recollections of the Lakes. 

84. Rustled ': The sense of hearing was remarkably acute in Words- 
worth, and its workings are prominent in his poetry. 

1 06. "Journey : Wordsworth and his sister left Sockburn on the igth 
of December, 1 709, and walking over the frozen ground, turning aside 
to see the icy waterfalls and the changing aspects of cloud and sun- 
shine, they consumed three days in the journey. At night they lodged 
in the cottages, and Wordsworth gave voice to the thoughts of the day. 
A great part of " Heai tleap Well " was composed on one of these 
evenings, from a tradition he heard that day from a shepherd. They 
reached their cottage on the 2ist. 

108-20. The life : This seemed to many of the poet's friends a mad 
project. With only a hundred pounds a year they were turning their 
backs upon the world, with dalesmen for their neighbors and verse- 
making for their business. Here was produced the most of that poetry 
which has made Wordsworth immortal. 



NOTES. 279 

187-90. Mithridates of Pontus, after having been vanquished by 
Pompey, fled into Armenia, B.C. 131. See Morley's English Writers, 
Ch. V. 

191. Sertorius : A Roman general who, being proscribed by Sulla, 
fled into Spain and thence to Mauritania. 

192. Fortunate Isles : In the Straits of Gibraltar Sertorius met some 
sailors, who told him of the islands in the Atlantic supposed to be the 
Canaries. 

202. Heroes, who were reported to have been seen by an old pilot 
of the seas, who landed at Lisbon in the early part of the fifteenth 
century. They claimed to have descended from a band of Christians 
who fled from Spain when it was conquered by the Moslems. 

206-10. Frenchman: Dominique de Gourgues, who in 1567 sailed 
from Bordeaux with a force, to avenge the massacre of French colonists 
in Florida by the Spaniards under Menendez. 

212. Gustavus I. of Sweden who, during the conflict with Denmark, 
was obliged to flee for his life, and disguised in rags worked as a miner 
and woodcutter in Dalecarlia. When the time came he aroused the 
peasants and defeated the Danes, and was offered the crown. 

21 C. "At Wallace's name what Scottish blood 

But boils up in a spring-tide flood." BURNS. 

270-75. Wordsworth was born at Cockermouth in the north country 
of England and in sight of the Scottish hills. The town ts situated at 
the junction of two rivers, the Cocker and the Derwent. He was 
sprung from the old North-Humbrian stock. 

283. Towers: Cockermouth Castle, standing on an eminence not 
far from the manor-house in which Wordsworth was born, was built by 
the first lord of Allerdale in the reign of William I. as a border defence. 
It was taken by Douglas in the border foray (1387), and was the prison 
of Mary Queen of Scots (1568). It was dismantled by the Parliamen- 
tarians. It is one of the finest castle ruins in England. See sonnet, 
"Spirit of Cockermouth Castle." 

286. Terrace-walk : At the garden, in the rear of the manor-house, 
is the terrace upon which the poet had his childish sports. The house 
and its surroundings are unaltered since the poet's father lived there, 
and the present owner is glad to show strangers the house and grounds. 



280 NOTES. 

288-300. At this early age he took delight in his own thoughts and 
his own company, and was touched with " those visions of the hills " 
which produced in him the feeling of reverence and awe in the pres- 
ence of Nature. The necessary sequence of this life at Cockermouth 
is the incident described so magnificently in 357 and the following lines, 
where he sings of how his mind was affected by that imaginative lone- 
liness of spirit in which he was so overawed by the mysterious and the 
terrible in Nature. 

304. Vale: At Hawkshead, a small market-town in the vale of 
Esthwaite, the 'most picturesque district of Lancashire. This old town 
presents us more of interest as connected with Wordsworth than 
Grasmere even, as it has suffered less from modern " improvements," 
and for this reason is less frequented by the hasty tourist who allows 
only a few days in which to "do" the Lakes. There is no more 
delightful spot in the district for recreative enjoyment; whether we 
wander by the lakeside, or loiter on the fellside, whether we ascend 
the summit of Wetherlam where the ravens build, or rest in the vale 
where " woodcocks sange," Nature, by its color and forms, moods and 
movements, is both a delight and a revelation. 

A quaint old town is Hawkshead, and the ancient look it bears, 
Its church, its school, its dwellings, its streets, its lanes, its squares, 
All are irregularities, all angles, twists, and crooks, 
Penthouses and gables over archways, weints, and nooks. 

307. Birthdays: Wordsworth, at the age of nine, entered the 
Hawkshead school, where he led the life that did so much to fit him 
for a poet. " High pressure was unknown in that school. Nature and 
freedom had full swing." PROFESSOR SHAIRP. 

311. The heights: The hills leading up to the moor between 
Hawkshead and Coniston. See Through the Wordsworth Country, 
Knight and Goodwin. 

326. Vale : Yewdale. A beautiful pastoral vale near Hawkshead. 

335- Crag: Ravens' Crag in Yewdale. There are no naked crags 
in Esthwaite. KNIGHT. 

357. See note, lines 288-300. 

359. Cove: By the side of Esthwaite lake. One going from Hawks- 
head by the east shore of the lake can realize this spot. 



NOTES. 281 

370. Craggy ridge : The mountain (Ironkeld) from High Arnside to 
Tom Heights. 

378. Huge peak : To what mountain this refers it is difficult to say, 
for it might be Nab Scar, if he rowed from the west bank of the lake, or, 
if he started from the east side, Pike o' Stickle. 

400-10. This educational power of Nature never ceased; day and 
night, summer and winter, its silent influence stole into his soul, and 
brought him near to Nature and near to God. 

425-63. A picture more vivid, more true to fact, more instinct with 
fine imagination and delicate feeling, was never drawn. Coleridge cites 
it in proof of his fourth characteristic excellency of Wordsworth's work. 
See Preface. 

490. Becks amongst the hills of Yewdale. 

499. Cottages: Wordsworth lived for nine years with one Anne 
Tyson for whose simple character he had a profound regard. The 
house still remains unaltered. It is a stone dwelling of two storys ; the 
basement floor is of Coniston slate. The door is interesting as having 
upon it the old " latch " mentioned in Book Second. 

543. The concluding line of this exquisitely drawn picture might 
seem to some an exaggeration, but the dalesmen tell us that the sound 
of the ice breaking up in this valley is just as here described. It is 
partly owing to the fact that the lake is surrounded by mountains, caus- 
ing the sound to reverberate. 

586. The school life was just what you would expect of a vigorous 
country youth. In all his sports there was nothing to distinguish him 
from other boys, except that in the midst of the scramble for the raven's 
nest or the run of "hare and hounds," feelings came to him from 
Nature herself; the invisible, quiet Life of the world spake to him 
rememberable things. 



BOOK SECOND. 

5-10. Never did boy spend a healthier, purer, or h'appier school- 
time. His love for Nature was no different from that of other boys. 



282 NOTES. 

It was a time full of giddy bliss and joy of being, yet he was gaining 
Truths that wake to perish never. 

26. In after life, when sorrow and pain come upon us, it will help 
us rise above them if we recollect the joy and force of youth. The 
possibility of turning the lamentable waste of excessive sorrow into a 
source of strength is a central idea in Wordsworth's philosophy. 

32. The remembrance of the brightness and gladness of his youth 
seemed to arouse another consciousness. 

39. Notwithstanding the presence of the "Assembly room" in the 
" square " at Hawkshead, it is easy for the visitor to picture there the 
centre of the school-boy's sports. 

56. Windermere : The largest of the English lakes, and not far 
from Hawkshead. 

58-65. The three islands are easily identified : Belle Isle, Lily of 
the Valley Island, and Lady Holme. Upon Lady Holme there was, in 
the time of Henry VIII., a chapel dedicated to St. Mary. 

77. The stillness of the place quieted their emulation and jealousy. 
This influence of Nature upon Wordsworth was what developed his 
peculiarity as a man and a poet. 

102. At Conishead Priory. There are many remains of the Druid 
worship in the Lake country, as it was the home of the Brigantes, the 
least civilized tribe of Britain. See sonnet, Long Meg and her Daugh- 
ters. The Circle at Keswick is composed of forty-eight upright stones. 

103. Furness Abbey, the largest abbey in England with the excep- 
tion of Fountain's Abbey, contained sixty-five acres; it was founded 
by Stephen in 1127. The old name of Furness was Bekansghyll Glen 
of Deadly Nightshade from an herb Bekan which grew there. It 
was dedicated to the Blessed Trinity and St. Mary. In these grounds, 
under the shadow of the old walls, now is seen a hotel for summer 
tourists ! 

137. Cartmell Sands, where Windermere, through the Leven, enters 
the sea. 

140. White Lion Inn at Bowness. The location is easily identified 
at the present time. 

1 59. An exact description of the scene from Bowness Church where 
the old tavern stood. 



NOTES. 283 

1 68. Robert Greenwood, afterwards Senior Fellow of Trinity Col- 
lege, Cambridge. 

171. These silent influences " instilled drop by drop " into his being, 
were moulding his future. 

185. Mountain: Wetherlam or Coniston Old Man. ' 

193-94. This is an accurate description of the rising of the moon 
over the southern shore of Esthwaite, with Gunners How at the left. 

197. Esthwaite, 

Where deep and low the hamlets lie 
Beneath their little patch of sky 
And little plot of stars. Peter Bell. 

201-3. The first step in Wordsworth's education, when the influences 
of Nature were unconsciously received, was now closing, and the 
second, when the influences were consciously sought, was opening. 

280. The props of his early impressions were his boyish sports, and 
when he turned away from them, still the impression remained. He 
had begun to realize all that he had been learning unconsciously. 

302-10. In these scenes of sublimity and calm he was consecrated 
to be the poet-priest of Nature. . 

333- Friend : The Rev. John Flemming, of Rayrigg, Windermere. 

339. Latch : Still on the door of the old cottage. 

343. Eminence : One of the heights northeast of Hawkshead. 

347. The light which came to him here became the "Master-light 
of all his seeing." See Ode on Intimations of Immortality. 

368-9. He now began to feel the influence of his own soul on 
Nature; he began to be a poet. 

401-9. Nature now began to put on the appearance of personality, 
with whom he could commune. It is a wonderful picture of a youthful 
life in communion with the Being of the world. 

413. Towards the Uncreated: "The looking thitherward through 
Nature and his own moral being, so as to have both based on one 
Divine order " is what Dr. Hudson considered Wordsworth's " Master 
Vision." 

421. In the following lines we have both a prayer and an anthem, 
the "Gloria in Excelsis ." He was now in his seventeenth year. The 
history of his boyhood is completed in the adoration and love of God. 



284 NOTES. 

Looking back upon these years he recognizes that the faithful, temper- 
ate, and quiet character of his life has been due to the early association 
with the beautiful and the sublime things in the outward world. This 
is the philosophy of the great " Ode." There is here the same atmos- 
phere which permeates the Psalms : " I will lift up mine 'eyes unto the 
mountains." Also St. Paul : " In Him we live and move and have our 
being." Dean Stanley illustrated the blessings of the pure in heart 
from the writings of Wordsworth. 

452. Coleridge was a charity boy at Christ's Hospital, London. 
It was founded on the site of Grey Friars Monastery, by Edward 
VI. It is commonly called "The Blue Coat School," as the dress 
of the boys is a blue coat, a yellow petticoat, a red girdle about the 
waist, yellow stockings, a clergyman's band round the neck, and a 
closely fitting black cap. The classes are called " Grecians " and 
" Deputy-Grecians." Coleridge belonged to the former. Every Easter 
Monday the boys visit the Royal Exchange, and every Easter Tuesday 
the Lord Mayor, at the Mansion House. 

454-60. Wordsworth's ideas of society and the state had been re- 
ceived contemptuously by those who did not give themselves the 
trouble to understand them. 

466. Coleridge had gone to the Mediterranean in search of health. 



BOOK THIRD. 

1-6. Through the liberality of two uncles, the education of Words- 
worth was prolonged beyond his school-days. Lord Lonsdale, whose 
agent the poet's father was, had forcibly borrowed from him .500 and 
refused to repay it. This left the fortunes of the Wordsworths at a 
low ebb, and the uncles discerning the talents of the brothers (William 
and Christopher) enabled them to obtain a Cambridge education. 
Wordsworth, in October, 1787, entered St. Johns College, Cambridge. 
His education at the hands of Nature was to cease for a time. It was 
a great change from the retirement of the Grammar School at Hawks- 
head. Cambridge represents to the approaching student no such 



NOTES. 285 

picturesque array of steeples, towers, and domes as her sister Oxford ; 
but her special boast is King's College Chapel, with its lofty pinnacles, 
fretted roof of stone, and huge windows of stained glass. The Uni- 
versity consists of seventeen colleges. Trinity is the largest in the 
number of its buildings and students, and St. Johns, founded by the 
mother of Henry VII. is next. In the Dining Hall of St. Johns may be 
seen the portrait of Wordsworth painted at the request of the Master 
and Fellows. 

7. Wordsworth went from York to Cambridge by the road which 
enters the city from Girton. KNIGHT. 

8. The Academical costume of a University man, or gownsman, is a 
closely fitting cap with a covered board forming the crown, from the 
centre of which hangs a tassel; a gown of black reaching nearly to 
the ankles; knee-breeches, and silk stockings. These are worn all of 
the time except from 12 M. to 4 P.M., when the student is at his exercise. 

13, 14. How many a country boy has had a similar experience as 
he entered the college town for the first time ! 

15. Near Magdalene College are the ruins of a camp or fortress 
used to defend the Fen-land (Cambridge) against William I. 

1 6. Named from the college, which it connects with those on the 
other side of the Cam. 

17. The Hoop Inn still exists. 

26. The newcomer at Cambridge is inducted into his rooms by a 
gyp, or college servant, who attends upon a number of students; he 
takes the former tenant's furniture at a valuation by the college uphol- 
sterer. But he has to supply one deficiency, a tea-set, decanters, etc. 

32. The gowns of the various colleges were different from each 
other, and also from those worn by the officers. 

43. " These wine parties are the most common entertainments, 
being the cheapest and most convenient." BRISTED, Five Years in 
an English University. 

47, 48. All of the colleges are constructed in quadrangles, or courts. 
Although Wordsworth's room is not pointed out to us by the officials, 
we know that it is one of two answering to this description. The 
entrances to the rooms are dark and low, a contrast to the comfortable 
rooms themselves. The quaint appurtenances, such as bookcases of 
scholastic sort sunk into the walls; little nooks of studies large enough 



286 NO TES. 

to hold a man in an arm-chair; garrets which the old priests used for 
oratories, but which now hold the Cantab's wine. 

61. All of the details here are exact. The statue of Newton is 
full-size. In his right hand he holds a roll which rests upon the fore- 
ringer of the left hand; his face is raised as if looking off into the upper 
sphere. 

64-75. " The little interests of the place were not great enough for 
one accustomed to the solemn and awful interests of Nature." REV. 
S. BROOKE. Medallists and wranglers could be had for the asking, 
but a Wordsworth could not afford to delay in such small matters as 
striving for University prizes or for a high place upon the Tripos. A 
Chinese system which produced "stall-fed" memories was not his ideal 
of education. 

90-143. He was living a double life at Cambridge: one with the 
students; another with himself. Even in the Fen-country he turned 
to Nature instinctively and lived in her presence. He was thus saved 
from becoming artificial. 

144-54. Sometimes he betrayed his inner life, but as at Hawkshead 
he was in appearance little different from the other students. 

15565. Through the "logic of the eye" he was convinced that 
Nature was not a dead machine, but was pervaded by a living presence, 
and that this was a unity. In this is the essential difference between 
Wordsworth's poetry and that of Pope, which viewed Nature as a vast 
machine with God standing apart. Wordsworth made Nature a new 
thing to man by adding what the true artist must ever add, 

the gleam, 
The light that never was on sea or land. 

170. The philosophic theory of Wordsworth is founded upon the 
identity of our childish instincts and our enlightened understanding. 

230. Arnold is the type of English action ; Wordsworth is the type 
of English thought. F. W. ROBERTSON. 

246-55. Even this was no unimportant element in the education of 
a poet who would view human nature in all its aspects. Being 
William Wordsworth he could afford to " drift." 

258-69. On a nature susceptible as his was, a residence in that 
ancient seat of learning could not but tell powerfully; if he had 



NOTES. 287 

learned no more than what silently stole into him, the time would not 
have been misspent. 

275. Remains of this mill are to be seen about three miles from 
Cambridge. 

283. See Milton's Penseroso. 

298-300. Of this exploit Sir Francis Doyle, in his Oxford lectures, 
remarks: "A worthy clerical friend of mine, one of the best poetical 
critics I know, and also one of the soundest judges of port wine, always 
shakes his head about this, and says : ' Wordsworth's intentions were 
good, no doubt, but I greatly fear that his standard of intoxication was 
miserably low.' " 

312. Surplice: On Saturday evenings, Sundays, and Saints' days 
the students wear surplices instead of gowns. 

322. His genius grew too deep and strong to grow fast. "He read 
the face of Nature; he read Chaucer, Spenser, and Milton; he amused 
himself and rested, and since he was Wordsworth he could not have 
done better." REV. S. BROOKE. For a companion picture see Cabot's 
Life of Emerson, Vol. I., page 57. 

Wordsworth's sister Dorothy, in a letter written in 1791, says: 
"William reads Italian, Spanish, French, Greek, Latin, and English." 
KNIGHT. 

462. The Revival of Learning was in the sphere of culture and art 
what the Reformation was in the sphere of religion and politics. The 
first, intellectual; the second, ethical. 

473. The begging scholar was common in the Middle Ages. 

476. All were connected with the Reformation and Revival of 
Learning. 

491. He lost the shadow, but kept the substance of education. 

580-81. In this miniature world he had developed in him the human 
element. Poetry demands God immanent in Man and Nature. 



288 NOTES. 



BOOK FOURTH. 

i-io. On the road from Kendal to Windermere. The description 
is exceedingly accurate. Wordsworth's home at Cockermouth was 
broken up, and his sister was living with relatives; this accounts for his 
return to Hawkshead. 

13. The ferry, called "Nab," is below Bowness. 

1 8. Hill Leading from the ferry to Sawrey. 

21. Hawkshead Church. An old Norman structure built in 1160. 
In it is a private chapel of Archbishop Sandys. 

22. The position of the church on the hill above the village is such 
that it is a conspicuous object from the Sawrey Hill. In tramping 
through this region the Prelude is the best of guides. 

26. See note, line 74, Book I. 

28-39. Anne Tyson, with whom the poet had spent nine years. 
She died at Colthouse, on the opposite side of the Vale, in 1 789, at the 
age of 83. 

47, 48. There is no trace and no tradition of the " Stone table and 
dark Pine " at Hawkshead. In Peter Bell we have, 

To the stone table in my garden, 

Loved haunt of many a summer hour. KNIGHT. 

51. The famous brook presents some difficulties to the relic hunter. 
Crossing the lane leading to the cottage we find it nearly covered 
with large, slate flags, giving the name Flag Street to one of the alleys 
of Hawkshead. The house adjoining the garden is not Dame Tyson's; 
hers is a few rods distant. 

61. Changes had been wrought in his life of which he was uncon- 
scious, and what seemed to him a useless expenditure of time was 
necessary to the union of Nature and Humanity. 

76. His Academical attire. 

82. The cottage faces southwest, and in one of the two upper rooms 
the poet must have slept. 

89. No remains of the ash can be found. 

130. Wordsworth seems to have been well aware of the suspicions 
his conduct would arouse among the dalesmen. 



NOTES. 289 

164-71. The evening hour in the presence of Nature influenced 
him like the face of an old friend; strength and comfort the sense 
of the majesty of human life entered his heart. Those matins and 
vespers were times of consecration. 

191-92. The result of his University life. 

280-81. "We must often reach the higher by going back a little, 
and Wordsworth's ' boundless chase of trivial pleasure ' was a necessary 
parenthesis in his education." REV. S. BROOKE. 

310. At a farmhouse near Hawkshead. 

323. At this baptismal hour his path must have been from some of 
the heights north of Hawkshead. Here he was consecrated to " truth 
and purity, and high unworldly endeavor." 

380. The brook is Sawrey beck, on the road from Windermere to 
Hawkshead, and the long ascent is the second from the ferry. 

387. The narrative with which he closes the book is a proof that his 
interest was now turning toward man. This narrative would not have 
been appropriate at an earlier date. 



BOOK FIFTH. 

1-28. Wordsworth here sounds those depths and ascends those 
heights which are the haunts of the contemplative mind. His words 
are the words of a seer. 

18-28. Then also man ! We seem here to find a reason for his 
deliberately sacrificing this great poem during these years, when, to 
have published it would have meant so much to him. 

29-49. Nature is the type of permanence and reality. " Man is 
transient and" ever changing, and imprints himself only upon man." 
This is not the attitude of an anchorite who declares all things under 
the sun to be but vanity and vexation, but of the seer who knows all 
things to be but the shadow of what is behind the veil. 

60. " I read while at school all Fielding's works, Don Quixote, Gil 
Bias, Gulliver's Travels, and the Tale of the Tub." W. W. 

88-92. All that is of lasting value in the intellectual achievement of 



290 NOTES. 

the poet, according to this dream, are the books of poetry and mathe- 
matical science, but the ruin that is to engulf all else ! what is it? 

140. Mr. Duffield, the translator of Don Quixote, says, that although 
no criticism of the work had appeared, yet Wordsworth in the above 
lines has given a most poetical insight into the real nature of the 
Hidalgo of La Mancha; he has shown us that it was a nature com- 
pacted of the madman and the poet. The earliest criticism of the 
Spaniards on the work was that one could not tell whether Don was 
speaking, or Cervantes, or the Cid. 

152. "Though this be madness, yet there's method in't." SHAKE- 
SPEARE. 

162. See Coleridge's sixth characteristic of Wordsworth, in Preface, 
page xxiii. 

185-91. This is Nature teaching, seriously and sweetly through the 
affections; it is knowledge inhaled like a fragrance. 

198. Wordsworth believed in the motto non multa sed tmiltutn as 
applied to reading, and Emerson is perhaps, next to Wordsworth, the 
best exponent of the results of such a course. 

221. Wordsworth has been accused of Pantheism. If presenting a 
new insight to mankind and turning theology into religion be Panthe- 
ism, then he merits the accusation. 

230-41. A high tribute to his early teachers, his mother, Rev. Mr. 
Gilbanks of Cockermouth, Mrs. Birkett of Penrith, and the Master at 
Hawkshead. 

257. Mrs. Wordsworth died when the poet was in his eighth year. 
She used to say she had no fears for her other children, but as for 
\Villiam, he would be remarkable either for good or evil. 

264-93. Wordsworth, fortunate as he was in his birthplace, was no 
less fortunate in having a mother worthy of such a tribute as he here 
pays to her. The picture is drawn with a masterly stroke, and we 
feel that it is from such sources that the best part of edncation 
proceeds. 

298-340. The touch of wholesome banter in this passage is exceed- 
ingly interesting, and its application is eminently judicious. He was 
among the first to protest against educational hot-beds. Wordsworth 
seldom indulges in satire, but this passage proves conclusively that had 
he chosen to use it, he might have attained to eminence as a satirical 



NOTES. 291 

poet. The Edinburgh Polyphemus might well have congratulated him- 
self that Wordsworth preferred the attitude of haughty indifference to 
his malignant criticisms. 

346. In a system of education where acquirement counts for more 
than culture, the spirit of egotism is fostered rather than the spirit of 
self-forgetfulness. 

364. Of the following description Coleridge said : " Had I met 
these lines running wild in the deserts of Arabia, I should have instant- 
ly screamed out Wordsworth ! " 

383-84. The frequent description of such scenes as this shows us 
how sensitive was the poet's ear. He recalls not only the general 
aspect of the place, but the sounds return as well. He hears no noises 
in Nature; he hears voices. He often arrests our minds by the single 
allusion to sound : 

How calm, how still, the only sound 
The dripping of the oar suspended. 
Again : 

Loud is the vale ! the voice is up 

With which she speaks when storms are gone. 

He both observes and hears Nature. 

391. Esthwaite. 

392. Churchyard: The description here is accurate. 

393. School : Hawkshead Free Grammar School, founded by Arch- 
bishop Sandys in 1585, was a famous classical school of the North of 
England; the building is changed but little since the poet's time. It 
rivals in interest and quaintness the Stratford Grammar School, and, 
like the latter, is still used. There is in it a library presented by the 
scholars, and an interesting old oak chest containing the original char- 
ter of the school. On the wall is a table containing the names of the 
masters. The oak benches are somewhat "insculped upon," and one 
of them contains the name, William Wordsworth. This the Words- 
worth Society has had covered with glass to preserve it from relic- 
hunters. Over the outside door is the old sun-dial. 

394. While seated in the churchyard one evening in the summer of 
1886, perhaps near the grave of this boy, this scene was brought 
vividly before me as a band of Hawkshead children came through the 
yard from their sports upon the hill beyond. 



292 NOTES. 

397. Grave : The grave of the boy cannot be identified. Words- 
worth, in a note on these lines, mentions one William Raincock, a 
schoolmate who was unusually proficient in the "owl language "; but as 
he was also at Cambridge with Wordsworth, he could not have been 
the " immortal boy." 

406-20. May she long : Rousseau says : " In my time children were 
brought up in the rustic fashion, and had no complexion to keep. . . . 
Timid and modest before the old, they were bold, haughty, and com- 
bative among themselves. They made men with zeal in their hearts to 
serve their country, and blood in their veins to shed for her. May 
we be able to say as much, one day, of our fine little gentlemen, 
and may these men at fifteen not turn out boys at thirty." Letter to 
D'Alemberi. 

421-25. The late Dr. Hudson has the following wise comment 
upon education : " Assuredly the need now most urgently pressing 
upon us is, to have vastly more of growth, and vastly less of manufac- 
ture, in our education; or, in other words, that the school be altogether 
more a garden, and altogether less a mill." Essays. 

441-42. Snapped the breathless stillness : Another allusion to sound. 
See also Fidelity : 

There sometimes doth a leaping fish 
Send through the tarn a lonely cheer. 

491-95. The unconscious forces in education are here emphasized, 
forces which we often make so little of, and cramming with mere in- 
struction, without waiting for any proper assimilation we expect im- 
mediate results, thus crushing out originality and the poetic spirit. 

" Worldly advancement and preferment neither are, nor ought to be, 
the main end of instruction, either in schools or elsewhere." W. W. 

507-11. Our childhood sits : In these lines we have the principle of 
the Ode on Immortality, 

Heaven lies about us in our infancy. 

522-35. The picture here presented of the young imagination feed- 
ing upon the romantic and the legendary, is one which may well cause 
us to tremble when we think of what the corruption of that imagination 
by draughts from a " stagnant pool " may mean. We should remember 
that those appetites " must have their food," and that unless we see to 



NOTES. 293 

it that the communion is a holy sacrament of the mind, it will be a 
sacrament of evil. 

54650. Turn wheresoe'er I may, 

By night or day, 
The things which I have seen I now can see no more. 

Ode on Immortality. 

561. Friend: As unknown as the boy "who blew mimic hootings 
to the owl," unless it be the one with whom he walked "five miles of 
pleasant wandering" around Esthwaite. See note, line 333, Book II. 

563. Lake : Esthwaite. 

570. Passages from Pope and Goldsmith. "The first verses I wrote 
were a task imposed by my master. I was called upon to write verses upon 
the completion of the second centenary of the school (1785). These 
were much admired far more than they deserved, for they were but a 
tame imitation of Pope's versification and a little in his style." W. W. 

586-605. Who in his youth, etc.: In passing from childhood to 
youth he was most attracted by the poets, and Nature gave him a 
keener appreciation and a deeper insight. Are these the momentary 
flashes which illumine our childhood path and then pass forever out 
of our sight "into the light of common day" ? If so, it were better 
that we had not experienced them. Here the philosophy of Words- 
worth (which is nothing else than his genuine common sense) helps 
us in our perplexity and saves us from becoming morbid. He every- 
where teaches that the joy of life must come from those childlike 
emotions which, if not crushed out, become the most fruitful sources 
of ennobling the character. No one has ever taught this truth with 
such exquisite power as has Wordsworth. Who can read without 
emotion the following words of old Matthew? 

My eyes are dim with childish tears, 

My heart is idly stirred; 
For the same sound is in my ears 

Which in those days I heard. 

This philosophy will wear, and in all the vicissitudes of our life, in 
grave and gay, it will whisper to us, "Waste not." See Character 
of the Happy Warrior. 



294 NOTES. 



BOOK SIXTH. 

It will be well for us to review the first two acts in the poet's life in 
order that we may the better understand the third, into which the fol- 
lowing books conduct us. 

We have seen how his love of Nature was begotten, and how it was 
nurtured until the new element of Humanity is introduced by his Uni- 
versity surroundings. We have been with him in those sacred moments, 
when once, in the gray light of the gloaming, and again in the crim- 
son flood of dawn he felt that the altar-flame of his devotion was 
kindled, and that thenceforth he was " a dedicated spirit," a priest set 
apart for service in the Sanctuary of Nature. From these experiences 
of his we have learned something of the circumstances under which 
true poetry is born in all inspired souls, 

From Homer the great Thunderer, from the voice 
That roars along the bed of Jewish song, 
And that more varied and elaborate, 
Those trumpet-tones of harmony that shake 
Our shores. 

We have learned that both religion and poetry thrive upon the same 
elements; that they live in and die apart from human interests and 
feelings. We can now comprehend what Milton meant when he said 
that poetry must be Simple, Sensuous, Passionate. In its origin poetry 
is based upon the primal and universal elements of our nature ; in its 
method it is sensuous, flashing truth by pictures; and in its aim it is 
passionate, the awakening of the slumbering sensibility in man by 
infusing into thought the fire of emotion. 

We are now ready to follow him in his return to the University, and 
on his visit to the continent. 

6. Granta and Cam are names for the same stream. Granta-bridge 
is the Anglo-Saxon for Cambridge. 

14. Rocky Cumberland: 

And now he reached the pile of stones, 

Heaped over brave King Dumnail's bones; 

He who had once supreme command, 

Lost King of rocky Cumberland. The Waggoner. 



NOTES. 295 

23. Many books, etc. : Being a year in advance of his class in 
Mathematics, he spent his time mostly with the Classics. 

24. Disobedience : Considering the circumstances under which he 
was sent to Cambridge, it would not be unlikely that his uncles would 
be dissatisfied with his course. It required courage on his part to pre- 
serve the "vital soul" under the routine and spiritless drudgery of his 
Cambridge instructors. " The flood tide of new life had not yet set in 
at Cambridge; she was still slumbering." MYERS. 

45-56. Many of Wordsworth's finest poems were composed before 
this time (April, 1804), but he was still at work on the Prelude, and 
had in view the remaining parts of the Recluse. 

76. A single tree : No remains of the ash-tree are now to be seen 
in the college grounds. In 1808, Dorothy, on visiting Cambridge, 
wrote : " I sought out a favorite ash-tree which my brother speaks of 
in his poem." 

And each particular trunk a growth 

Of intertwisted fibres serpentine. Borrowdale Yews. 

0004. This is a holy faith, and full of cheer 

To all who worship Nature, that the hours 

Passed tranquilly with her fade not away 

For ever like the clouds; but in the soul 

Possess a sacred silent dwelling-place. PROF. WILSON. 

Wordsworth taught that the origin of poetry was in emotion recol- 
lected in tranquillity. 

99, loo. This shows that the reading of the poet was not very 
"vague " after all. 

106. Nature, though not affording him so many facts, had yet broad- 
ened his understanding. 

no, in. Alluding to the custom of forming English verse after the 
model of the classics. 

117. Though advanced: Before leaving Hawkshead he had mas- 
tered five books of Euclid, and Algebra through Quadratics. 

173. That loved, etc. : 

Then twilight is preferred to dawn, 

And autumn to the spring. Ode to Lyctus. 

180. Bard: Thomson. Castle of Indolence. 



296 NOTES. 

189. It is this character of frankness in Wordsworth which renders 
the Prelude so faithful a record. 

193. Dovedale : A rocky chasm not far from Ashburn, Derbyshire. 

194-200. It was probably during his second summer vacation 
that he was restored to his sister, who had been living at Penrith with 
maternal relatives. 

205. Castle : Brougham Castle, built by Roger, Lord Clifford, and 
situated at the junction of the Emont and Lowther, about a mile from 
Penrith, on the Appleby road. It was often plundered by Scottish 
bands and in the Wars of the Roses. It is now in ruins. See song at 
the feast of Brougham Castle : 

Armor rusting in his halls 

On the blood of Clifford calls; 

Quell the Scot, exclaims the lance, 

Bear me to the heart of France 

Is the longing of the shield. 

208. Helvellyn : One of the largest mountains of the lake region, 
near Grasmere and in sight of Dove Cottage. 

209. Cross-fell : A mountain near Helvellyn. 

221, 222. The streams with softest sands are flowing, 

The grass you almost hear it growing. 

Wordsworth frequently addresses the " inevitable ear " in us, but 
the rush and hurry of life often unfit us for appreciating these finer 
tones of his music. 

224. Alary Hutchinson : A schoolmate of his at Penrith. See note, 
line 62, Book I. Also see 

She was a phantom of delight. 

229. So near us : Wordsworth married Miss Hutchinson in 1802. 

233. Border Beacon : A hill northeast of Penrith upon which, 
during the Border Wars, beacon-fires were lighted to summon the 
country to arms. On the 2ist of June, Jubilee year (1887), the border 
counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland were illuminated by bon- 
fires upon the tops of the mountains, this " Beacon " hill being one. 
The fires extended from Castle hill, Carlisle, to the sea. 

237. Coleridge and Wordsworth first met at Racedom in June, 1797. 
Of Coleridge, Dorothy wrote : ' He is a wonderful man, his conversa- 
tion teems with mind, soul, and spirit." 



NOTES. 297 

240. He had gone to Malta to regain his health. 

25 1 . Etesian : The mild winds of the Mediterranean. 

Be true, 

Ye winds of ocean, and the midland sea, 
Wafting your charge to soft Parthenope. 

On Departure of Scott for Naples. 

258. Poetry and Philosophy. 

266-74. A blue-coat-boy at Christ's Hospital, London. "Come 
back into memory as thou wert in the day-spring of thy fancies, Sam- 
uel Taylor Coleridge, logician, metaphysician, bard! How have I 
seen the casual passer through the cloisters stand still, entranced . . . 
while the walls of the old Grey Friars re-echoed to the accents of the 
inspired charity boy ! " LAMB. 

272. Stream : River Otter in Devon. 

For I was reared 

In the vast city, pent 'mid cloisters dim, 
And saw naught lovely but the sky and stars. S. T. C. 

279. Thou earnest: Coleridge entered Cambridge in February, 1791, 
one month after Wordsworth had taken his degree. 

281. Student: Coleridge, besides the Classics and Mathematics, 
studied Philosophy and Politics. 

281. Course: See Life of Coleridge. 

294. See Charles Lamb's " Christ's Hospital Five and Thirty Years 
Ago," in his Essays of Elia. 

322. Robert Jones, a college mate, to whom the poet afterwards 
dedicated the Descriptive Sketches, memorials of this tour. 

340. "We crossed at the time," wrote Wordsworth, "when the 
whole nation was mad with joy, in consequence of the Revolution." 
In August, 1789, the Nobles in the Assembly surrendered all their 
feudal rights and privileges. 

342. " W T e went staff in hand, without knapsacks." W. W. 

346. July 14, 1790, when the king swore fidelity to the new Con- 
stitution; on this day trees of Liberty were planted all over France. 
They went from Dover to Calais. 

350. They went by Andres, Peronne, and Soissons, to Chalons, and 
thence sailed to Lyons. 



298 NOTES. 

355. Villages: 

By secret villages and lonely farms. Descriptive Sketches. 

362. Her road rustling thin above my head. Descriptive Sketches. 

377. July 29, 1790. 

395. Landed: At Lyons. 

406. A singular picture of the " moody " young poet. 

418-29. On Aug. 4, they reached Chartreuse, a monastery situated 
on a rock 4000 feet above the sea. It was founded by St. Bruno; was 
despoiled during the French Revolution and the inmates driven off. 

430. See Ecclesiastical Sonnets. 

436. Forest of Bruno, near Chartreuse. 

439. Rivers at Chartreuse. 

480. Groves : In the valley of Chartreuse. 

484. Crosses on the Spiry Rocks of the Chartreuse, almost inap- 
proachable. 

497. From July 13 to Sept. 29. 

501. Valleys: 

Ursern's open vale serene. Descriptive Sketches. 
515. Industry: 

Abodes of peaceful men. Descriptive Sketches. 

519. Vale: Between Martigny and Col de Balme. 

524. Ridge : Col de Balme. 

528-40. Compare with this description Coleridge's hymn to Mount 
Blanc ; also Shelley's. 

563. Built by Napoleon, is 6628 feet high, and connects Geneva 
with Milan. 

619. Down the Italian side of the Simplon. See poem on the 
Simplon Pass. 

624-40. The majesty of the place seized on him; its grandeur and 
awfulness ravished him beyond himself, and the stupendous powers of 
the world spoke one language to him, he was lost in revelation. 

663. The banks of Lago di Como are mountains 3000 feet high, 
with hamlets, villas, chapels, and convents. 

665. Pathways : Narrow foot paths are the only communication, 
by land, from village to village. 



NO TES. 299 

670. Verse : In Descriptive Sketches. 

700. Gravedona : At the head of Lake Como. 

723. Night; Aug. 21, 1790. 

764. They reached Cologne Sept. 28, and went thence through 
Belgium to Calais. 

769. Was touched : He went to the continent bent on seeing Nature; 
he found sublimity in the Alps and beauty at the Italian lakes. The 
depths of his soul were stirred, and began to assert themselves in 
creation; the power of expression now begins to dawn. He had felt 
the call to be a poet, and he must not be disobedient to the heavenly 
vision, although his course might seem hardy disobedience to friends. 



BOOK SEVENTH. 

I. First: Feb. 10, 1799. See note, lines i-io, Book I. In a letter 
dated Grasmere, June 3, 1805, Wordsworth says : " I have the pleasure 
to say that I finished my poem about a fortnight ago." Thus we are 
sure that the last seven books must have been written in the year 
1805. 

4. Preamble : First two paragraphs of Book I. 

6. Transport: The Preamble. 

7. Scafell : The highest mountain in the lake district. 

II, 12. Stopped: It is evident that this was in 1802, otherwise we 
cannot account for the " years " intervening before " last Primrose- 
time," 1804. See note, lines 45-56, Book VI. and text. 

13. Assurance: Coleridge, before going to Malta, urged Words- 
worth to complete this work. 

1 6. Sum m er : \ 804. 

31. Will chant: This book must have been begun, then, in the 
fall of 1804. 

44. Grove : John's Grove, so called because it was the favorite 
resort of the poet's brother, Captain Wordsworth. It is but a few 
moments' walk from Dove Cottage. You pass it by the middle road 



300 NOTES. 

to Rydal, opposite the famous " Wishing Gate "; from it there is a 
fine view across the lake to the mountains beyond. 

And there I sit at evening, where the steep 

Of Solver How, and Grasmere's peaceful lake, 

And one green island gleam between the stems 

Of the dark firs, a visionary scene! Poems on Naming of Places. 

52. Excursion : Related in Book VI. 

54. Quitted: He took his degree, B. A., in January, 1791, and left 
Cambridge. 

58-65. Undetermined : He went at once to visit his sister at Forn- 
cett Rectory, near Norwich, where he remained six weeks. The crisis 
of his life lay between this time and his settlement at Grasmere. He 
had resolved to be a poet, but poetry would not feed him unless he 
prostituted his talents and wrote for the crowd. " Flash " was what 
would pay, but he could not reconcile the " flash line " with the line of 
duty. In this perplexity of mind he went to London, and roamed 
about, noting men and things. All the time his friends were urging 
him to enter the church, the law, or the army. 

68. Three years : It is evident from this that he must have visited 
London in 1788. 

81. See The Seven Wonders of the World. 

112. Whittinglon . A famous citizen of London, thrice Lord Mayor. 

121. Vauxhall, etc. : Pleasure gardens, now built over; the names 
are applied to streets in the city. 

129. See Sonnet on Westminster Bridge. 

131. Giants: Gog and Magog, sometimes carried in the pageant of 
Lord Mayor's Day. 

132. Bedlam: Lunatic Hospital, built in 1549. 

136. Monument : On Fish Street Hill, erected to commemorate the 
Great Fire in September, 1666. It required six years to erect it; it 
is a fluted column 202 feet high, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. 

Tmuer : The most celebrated fortress in Great Britain. It was 
built by William I., and has been used as royal residence, armory, 
prison, treasure-house, and seat of government. The "Chamber" is 
the armory in four compartments: (i) armor of Battle of Hastings, 
(2) of the French wars, (3) of Henry VIII., (4) of James I. and 
Elizabeth. 



NOTES. 301 

1 60. Referring to the custom of marking the house in which some 
noted man lived. 7 Craven St., Strand, has, " Benjamin Franklin lived 
here." 

267. Saddler's Wells: A theatre, named from the spring in the 
garden. Here the plays of Shakespeare and the old dramatists were 
acted. 

297. Maid : Buttermere is about fifteen miles from Grasmere. The 
" Spoiler " was afterwards hanged at Carlisle. 

305. Coleridge and Wordsworth must have seen her when they took 
their tramp through the lakes. See note, line 74, Book I. 

382. To Cambridge, 1787. 

458, 459. All of these events lose their triviality when considered as 
necessary parts of the poet's education. 

484. His father had set him to learn passages from the best English 
poets. 

491. Stage : Parliament, when the debates were in progress on the 
French Revolution. He said, " You always went away from Burke 
with your mind filled." 

498. See Shakespeare's King Henry V. 

529. Theory : See Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution. 
It is not easy to account for Wordsworth's admiration for Burke, as 
recorded here and elsewhere, when we consider that their theories 
were antagonistic; one taking the optimistic, the other the pessimistic 
view. 

564. Death of Abel : By Solomon Gesner, born in Zurich, 1730. 
His Death of Abel was translated into English in 1 780. Wordsworth 
probably means by " the other day " the appearance of a new edition. 

565. Bard : Young, author of Night Thoughts. 

678. St. Bartholomew : Henry I. granted the privileges of holding 
fairs on this day; but as they had deteriorated to cheap shows, they 
were proclaimed in 1850. 

744. See Shairp's Poetic Interpretation of Nature, Ch. XIV. 



302 NOTES. 



BOOK EIGHTH. 

In the rush and roar of London, caught in the tides of her feverish 
life, Wordsworth seems to have been drifting aimlessly. But the poet's 
heart was beating in his breast all the more rapidly because of the con- 
trast of the city's din to the quiet of his cloister life at Cambridge, and 
at each pulse he felt himself drawn nearer to the life of man. Until 
this time, Nature and God were first, and Man second; here in 
the centre of the great metropolis the transition was made. Now, at 
the beginning of the Eighth Book, he looks back and gives us an inside 
view of the workings of his own soul while it was being played upon by 
the influences of Nature and of Man. The value of Book VII., of 
itself the least interesting in the Prelude, is not grasped except by 
understanding its relation to the following, 

" There's a day about to break, 
There's a light about to dawn." 

1-20. One of these fairs is alluded to by Dorothy in her Grasmere 
Journal, Sept. 2, 1800. At that time Coleridge was with them at Dove 
Cottage. " We walked to the Fair ... It was a lovely moonlight 
night, and the sound of dancing and merriment came along the still 
air." The annual sports of the North of England at Grasmere resem- 
ble one of these fairs, 

Bid by the day they wait for all the year, 
Shepherd and swain their gayest colors don, 
For race and sinewy wrestling meet upon 
The toumay ground beside the shining mere. 
* * * 

No banner fame they boast, no high emprize ; 
A brother's praise the simple meed they ask; 
The fullest guerdon of the stubborn task 
The love that lights a fluttering maiden's eyes. 

H. D. RAWNSLEY. 

48-52. From Malvern Hills, by Mr. Joseph Cottle (see Prefatory 
Note to Book I.). 

70-76. Looking back, the poet sees that his love of Nature led him 
on to the love of Man. 



NOTES. 303 

78. Gehol: Hanging Gardens of Babylon. 

98-100. His childhood, passed among magnificent scenery where 
man was free, was moulded by the simple life of home. The men were 
as sturdy and incorruptible as the mountains themselves. The beauty 
of his country, like that of Switzerland, was more beautiful because of 
the liberty of soul which characterized the people. The freedom of 
Nature was not marred by " man's inhumanity to man." This idea 
Wordsworth made central in Michael. 

Of shepherds, dwellers in the valleys, men 
Whom I already loved; not verily 
For their own sake, but for the fields and hills 
Where was their occupation and abode. 

128. These shepherds, living as they did so near to Nature, seemed 
to his young imagination but another aspect of the life of the hills. The 
rocks and streams were vocal, in the traditions of the dalesmen, with 
many a tale of suffering or heroism amid the howling winds and the 
driving storms which often destroyed both them and their flocks. See 
Fidelity. 

129. Saturn : An ancient mythical king of Latium. 
132. Golden Age: See Virgil VIII., 319. 

135. Grecian Song: Polybius IV., 20, 21. 

139. Arden: See Shakespeare's As You Like It. 

142. See Winter's Tale. 

144. Spenser: Shepherd 's Calendar (May). 

145-63. Some of the rural pastimes are still kept alive in the region 
of the Lakes, but the tourist, with his fine clothes, pretension, and 
presents, has done much to create dissatisfaction in the breasts of the 
rural folk. At Grasmere and Ambleside the custom of " Rush Bearing" 
is continued, in memory of the time when they strewed the ground in 
the churches with rushes gathered from the lake-side. It now occurs in 
August, and the rushes wreathed with flowers are used to decorate the 
church. It is a Children's Festival, and to see them, headed by a 
band of music, march through the streets, singing, 

" Our fathers to the House of God, 

As yet a building rude, 
Bore offerings from the flowery sod 
And fragrant rushes strewed," 



304 NOTES. 

suggests that the spirit of Wordsworth is still moving amongst them. 
Never do they forget to place an offering on the poet's grave. 
1 70. See The Brothers. 

1 75. Galesus : An Italian river, famous for fine-fleeced sheep. 

1 76. Adria : See Acts xxvii., 27. 

1 80. Clitumnus : A tributary to the Tiber, famous for its snow- 
white cattle. 

182. Lucretilis : A hill near the farm of Horace. See Ode I., 17. 
The excellence of style in these descriptions, the pulsation and thrill, 
the exquisite effects of metre, the graceful and natural flow of words, 
the art of concealing art, and the classical atmosphere pervading the 
whole, show in a peculiar way the genius of the poet. 

1 86. Pastoral track : At Goslar, near the Hartz Mountains. See 
Prefatory Note, Book I. 

210. Walls: In the Fenwick note to In Germany, he says, "I 
walked daily on the ramparts, or on a sort of public ground or garden." 
KNIGHT. 

215. Hircynian : Near the Rhine, in Southern and Central Germany. 
See Caesar, B. G. VI., 24, 25. 

217. Channels: Wastdale, Ennerdale, Yewdale, etc. 

223-93. Here " Nature seems to take the pen out of his hand and 
write with her own sheer, bare, penetrating power." In this there is 
the grandeur of the mountains, which by their relation to man ennoble 
and glorify him. The passage is unique and unmatchable; it is char- 
acterized by a profound sincerity and an exquisite naturalness, accom- 
panied with something of the dramatic; it is the heart of the poet 
beating in sympathy with Nature and Man. 

294-340. Thus it was that the poet gained his firm faith in the 
nobility of man. He did not find evil as fast as he found good in 
those early days, for he read his first lesson on Man from the book of 
Nature, and saw him in his setting of beauty and sublimity. The 
voices of sea, of mountain, and of forest, testified to the liberty of 
Man, and educated him into a republican. When the thick veil of 
custom, of artificial manners, of pretension and display, has obscured 
from our view the natural dignity of human nature, and we rate men 
by what they have rather than by what they are, it will do us good 
to listen to this singer of " humble themes and noble thought." 



NOTES. 305 

340-91. Although Nature was at first pre-eminent in his thoughts, 
yet his vision of man was growing clearer and clearer, and he began 
to unite the two in one picture. See Tintern Abbey Poem. (361) Of 
tenderness : See Green Linnet and Hartleap Well. (369) Har- 
monious words : See The Evening Walk, written at the age of seven- 
teen, and Descriptive Sketches. 

408. Rock: It is difficult to determine whether this alludes to Dove 
Cottage or Ann Tyson. If the former is meant, the rock would be on 
Red Bank; if the latter, it would be on the hill northwest of Hawks- 
head. 

421. In preface to Lyrical Ballads, he says: " Fancy is given us to 
quicken and beguile the temporal part of our nature; imagination, to 
incite and support the eternal." 

459- Thurston-mere : Coniston Lake, not far from Hawkshead. 

468. The following eight lines are recast from a poem which he 
wrote in anticipation of leaving school, and which he said was a tame 
imitation of Pope's versification. 

477. High emotion: Poetry written before 1805. 

543. Entered: Probably in 1 788. 

562. Antiparos: One of the Cyclades, containing a stalactite cave. 

Den: A limestone cavern near Ingleton in Yorkshire. 

619. For Wordsworth's theory of diction, see Preface to Lyrical 
Ballads. 

631. From all sides knowledge of man poured in upon him, and he 
had the ability to grasp it, not in its narrow detail, but in the majesty 
and loftiness of the vast and immeasurable power of humanity, a 
power for evil as well as for good. 

634. The following ten lines illustrate to what heights of sublimity 
his imagination was capable of rising. The analogy between Nature 
and Mankind here is not so far-fetched as some think. The sense of 
ceaseless activity of Nature showing itself in frost, in flood, and in 
lightning, corresponded to the rush, the passion, and the strife of this 
sea of humanity. 

645. As he had read the face of Nature, and under its apparent 
frown read love, so here he looked beneath the surface and grasped 
the real abiding principle, and saw that manhood was even more manly 
when contending in the crowded marts. This was the needed sequel 



306 NOTES. 

to the picture of man which he had among the mountains, and it 
made him sympathetic in all the struggles of life. 

669. This was the thought which exalted the idea of man above all 
others ; the thought of Brotherhood under God, the Father of all. 

677-86. Nature had been his guide to the idea of the unity of Man 
and the fatherhood of God, and had developed in him love of his race; 
yet he often sought in her rest and refuge from the lawlessness and 
guilt of mankind. 



BOOK NINTH, 

We have seen what impressions Wordsworth received from Nature, 
and how, beginning at Cambridge and continuing in London, they 
led him up to the study of Man. He now loved both Nature 
and Man, and his enthusiasm for humanity was growing day by day. 
After spending four months, February, March, April, and May, in 
London, he visited his friend Jones in Wales, and refreshed himself by 
communion with the hills; visiting Menai, Con way, and Bethgelert; 
enjoying the splendor of the Vale of Choyd; and upon the summit of 
Snowdon beheld the " vision " recorded in the last book of the Prelude. 
Yet even here in the solitude of Nature, the voice of Humanity sound- 
ing in that song of liberty allured him to the theatre of Revolution. 
The Revolution was not confined to the sphere of politics : that was 
only one feature of the great movement toward the goal of equal rights 
to which the nations were tending. It was a return to Nature in all 
the departments of life. This enthusiasm for Nature took form in 
France under Rousseau's extravagant and diseased sensibility. In 
Germany the same feeling was manifested by Goethe, who combined 
the poetic with the scientific aspect of Nature, and swelled the great 
wave of feeling which was gathering force as it advanced. In England 
it had been growing into form for half a century. The heralds of the 
day arose from quarters, and under circumstances quite unexpected, 
from the sorrow and disappointment of Cowper and the untaught melo- 
dies of plow-boy of Ayrshire, the one in his invalid nightcap, the 



NOTES. 307 

other in his blue bonnet and homespun. But the poet who was to 
conduct the heart of England to the love of rivers, woods, and hills 
was, in the autumn of 1791, leaving Brighton for Paris, about to plunge 
into the blood and furor of that revolutionary city. 

28. Year : See comments above. 

35. So lately : With Jones in 1790. 

40. Toivn : Orleans. 

45. Mars : In the west of Paris. 

46. St. Antoine : In the east of the city. 

47. Martre : In the north of the city. 
Deme : The Pantheon, in the south. 

51. Tossed: On May 4, 1789, the clergy, noblesse, and tiers etat, 
constituting the States General, met in Notre Dame. The next day 
the tiers etat assumed the title of the National Assembly, and urged 
the others to join them. The Jacobin Club began the same year. 
Madam Roland and the Brissotins were now in the ascendant. 

52. Palace: Palais Royal, built by Cardinal Richelieu, and pre- 
sented to Duke of Orleans by Louis XIV. 

68. B a stile : State prison and citadel of Paris. It was taken and 
destroyed by the Revolutionists, July 14, 1789. 

71. Truth: Wordsworth was a natural republican, and hence his 
indifference. 

77. Le Brun : Court painter of Louis XIV. 

132. They were so disgusted with the Revolution that they stood 
ready to join the emigrants in arms against their country under Leopold, 
king of Prussia, and to restore the old regime. 

139. One : The Republican general, Beaupuis. 

176. Carra, Gorsas : Journalist deputies in the first year of the 
Republic. The latter was the first of the deputies to die on the scaf- 
fold. See Carlyle's French Revolution, Vol. II. 

182. Flight: See note, line 132. 

214. See Merchant of Venice, Act II., Scene viii., second speech of 
Prince of Aragon. 

216-17. This statement is as true now as when it was written. 
Ruskin, in 1876, said that he had, in his fields at Coniston, men who 
might have fought with Henry V. at Agincourt without being distin- 
guished from one of his knights. 



308 NOTES. 

232. " Drawn from a strong Scandinavian stock, they dwell in a 
land as solemn and beautiful as Norway itself. And the Cumbrian 
dalesmen have afforded, perhaps, as near a realization as human fates 
have yet allowed of a rural society which statesmen have desired for 
their country's greatness." F. W. H. MYERS. 

265. Posting on : see note, line 132. 

281-87. Thus it was that the Revolution touched the hearts of the 
young and imaginative minds of England; the light of a new heaven 
and a new earth seemed about to dawn on men. They believed 
that God was avenging the wrongs and injustice of the rulers. Cole- 
ridge and Southey were beside themselves at the prospect of a 
Pantisocracy, a religious socialism. 

290-321. In company with this rejected Republican, Wordsworth 
lived; they were kindred spirits. The description here given of a man 
whom the ideas of Revolution had changed from a noted gallant to a 
military hero illustrates the type of men whom great emergencies breed. 
Similar events produced the heroes of our Civil War. 

321-39. Discussion of rights, based upon universal brotherhood. 

340-63. The oppression and tyranny which had hindered Man's 
progress. 

363-39. Man, his noble nature, and what must result from it. 
In reference to 321-389, see quotation from Senator Hoar in the 
preface. 

392. Rotha : See sonnet, by Rev. H. D. Rawnsley, in the preface. 

393. Greta : A river which flows past the home of Southey at 
Keswick. See sonnet to River Greta. 

Derwent : See note, lines 270-75, Book I. 

409. Dion : a pupil of Plato's. See the poem Dion, composed in 
1816. 

410. Both Plato and Dion tried to influence Dionysus, the tyrant of 
Syracuse, but did not succeed. Finally, Dion was induced to attempt 
the deliverance of Syracuse. See " Dion " in Plutarch's Lives. 

412. Philosophers who assisted Dion. 

413. Syracusan exiles. 

416. Dion sailed with 800 troops, and took Syracuse. 

451. Angelica: Character in the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto. 



NOTES. 309 

453. Erminia : Heroine of Jerusalem Delivered, by Tasso. 

481. Romorentin : Capital of Sologne. "It was taken in 1356 
and in 1429 by the English, in 1562 by the Catholics, and in 1589 by 
the Royalists." KNIGHT. 

482. Blois : Birthplace of Louis XII. In XVI century, court was 
often held there. It is one of the most interesting places in France. 
Wordsworth went from Orleans to Blois in the spring of 1792. 

484. Lady : Claude, daughter of Louis XII. 

491. Chambourd : Village nine miles from Blois, noted for its 
chateau and park. Francis I, Charles IX, Louis XIII, and Louis XIV 
held court there. 

501-41. These dreams have been pronounced chimerical; yet if 
they are to prove so, the spirit of Christianity and its root-thoughts 
must be equally chimerical. It is this deep Christian feeling which is 
the parent of Democracy, and the creator of the idea of an universal 
humanity. Nothing short of Christian ideas applied to the relation of 
men to one another, and to the state, can solve the problem which is 
baffling so many at the present time. 

By the soul 
Only the nations shall be great and free. 

547. A tale : Vaudracour and Julia, founded on a tale related to 
Wordsworth by a French lady who was an eye-witness of the scene 
described. 

553. The following four lines are the prelude to the above-mentioned 
poem. 



BOOK TENTH. 

11. Metropolis : In the autumn of 1792 he left Blois for Paris. 

12. Fallen: Aug. 10, 1 792, the mob stormed the Tuileries and im- 
prisoned the king and his family in the Temple. In December he was 
tried, and in January, 1793, executed. 

18. Mogul: A corruption of Mongol, the name given to emperors 
of India. 



310 NOTES. 

19. Agra and Lahore: Cities of India implicated in the Sepoy 
rebellion. 

20. The Rajahs were the native princes of India, and the Omlahs 
were their officials. 

40. League : The supposed union of Louis with European monarchs 
to put down the Rebellion. 

41. Republic: On the 22d of September, 1792, the Republic was 
proclaimed. 

43. Massacre: The Danton massacres were just over; they lasted 
from the 2d to the 6th of September. 

48. He arrived in Paris in October, 1792. The city heaved like a 
volcano. Robespierre, one of the " Committee of Public Safety," which 
believed in the imprisonment of all who did not accept the extreme 
views of the Revolutionists, was rising. 

56. Carrousel; Place de Carrousel, a public square, used for fes- 
tivals. 

63-93. But that night: This passage expressing the intensity of 
feeling of the young poet is one of the finest in all his poetry. Al- 
though he took sides against Robespierre, yet he held fast to the 
principles of the Revolution. He seemed to see in all the vengeance 
and bloodshed the hand of God, and he felt that in the end Freedom 
would win. 

95. Orleans : See note, line 51, Book IX. 

in. Jean Baptiste Louvet, who, when Robespierre was summoned 
to the tribune to answer to the charge of aspiring to the dictatorship, 
and asked who accused him, answered " Moi" and recited crime after 
crime, until the tyrant, who had abolished the worship of God and 
declared that of Reason, was cowered. 

1 14. Robespierre got a delay of one week to prepare an answer, 
and by smooth speech finally triumphed. 

120-90. The vein of optimism running through these lines is char- 
acteristic of a man trained as he had been. His optimism is that of 
one who firmly believes in the righteousness of right, and that through 
the eternal Love and Justice of God man would become regen- 
erated. It was this element in his nature which made his poetry of 
man not only revolutionary, but Christian. 



NOTES. 311 

198-99. Harmodius and Aristogiton: Athenians who put to death 
the tyrant Hipparchus, and rid the city of the rule of the Pisistratidae, 
much as Brutus rose against Caesar. 

222-31. Such was the fascination of the terrible city, and such was 
his sympathy in the great movement, that had his funds not given out, 
he doubtless would have "seen it out," and perished with his friends, 
the Brissotins. He returned to England in December, 1792. 

236. Twice: He left England in November, 1792. 

245. To abide : He remained in London during the winter of 
1792-3, with his brother Richard. In Dec. 22, 1792, Dorothy writes 
from Forncett Rectory : " William is in London." 

247. The movement of Clarkson and Wilberforce for abolishing the 
slave trade. See Sonnet to William Clarkson. 

264-65. When in January, 1 793, the Republic threw down the head of 
Louis XVI. as her battle gauge, and England joined with Holland and 
Spain against France, his indignation knew no bounds; it was a ter- 
rible shock to his moral nature. If England was to disappoint him, 
where was he to look for support? 

283. Rejoiced: This is the culmination of that idea of interest in 
mankind outside of the bounds of England which began in the poetry 
of Goldsmith, was continued in Cowper, and became so intense in the 
" Poet of Humanity," Wordsworth. 

315. Red Cross flag: Union Jack. When the crowns of England 
and Scotland were united under James I., the red cross of St. George 
and the white cross of St. Andrew were ordered to be joined in one 
ensign. 

316-30. Wordsworth, in his advertisement to Guilt and Sorrow, 
says : " During the latter part of the summer of 1 793, passed a month 
in the Isle of Wight, in view of the fleet then preparing for sea at 
Portsmouth, and left the place with melancholy forebodings." 

331-75. The "Reign of Terror" began in France in July, 1793. 
Mob rule and terrorism won the lead against the Conservatives, and the 
guillotine was the strong arm of the law against all who opposed the 
radical ideas of the " Committee of Public Safety," and the Atheis- 
tical party which enthroned the Goddess of Reason in November, 



312 NOTES. 

381. Madame Roland, wife of the minister of the interior under 
Dumouriez; his opposition to Louis XVI. caused his dismissal from 
office, and produced the insurrection which paved the way for the 
restoration of the Girondists to the ministry. The saloon of Madame 
Roland was the rallying-point of the Girondist leaders. The Jacobins 
were bent on the death of M. and Madame Roland, and she was be- 
headed on Nov. 8, 1793. When upon the scaffold, turning to the 
statue of Liberty, she said, " O Liberty, what crimes are committed in 
thy name ! " Her husband committed suicide. 

383. O Friend, etc. : The result, given in the following lines, was 
not a strange one on a nature like Wordsworth's. The eclipse of his 
fair idol of the rights of man was almost total. 

430. The love of Nature had been superseded by the love of Man, 
and now that the second love was weakening, the crisis was near at 
hand. 

436-80. In his most passionate moods, temperance was at the cen- 
tre, and prevented the flame of emotion from consuming him. When 
he looked deep into the roots of the Revolution, he saw that God was 
educating the nation by the punishment of evil, and that the " Reign of 
Terror" was a natural sequence of the greed and tyranny of the 
noblesse. 

491. With Jones in the vacation of 1790. 

4967. Jones! as from Calais southward you and I 

Went pacing side by side, the public way 
Streamed with the pomp of a too credulous day, 
When faith was pledged to new-born Liberty. 

Sonnet composed near Calais, 1802. 

498. Arras : A town one hundred miles from Paris, celebrated for 
its tapestries. The birthplace of Robespierre. 

512. The reaction from the " Reign of Terror " had set in; all par- 
ties combined against Robespierre, and he was executed by his former 
supporters, July 28, 1 794. 

513. The day : The winter of 1793-4, Wordsworth spent in Cum- 
berland, at Keswick and Penrith. This journey must have been in 
August, 1794. 

515. Over the Ulverston sands, where the waters of Windermere 
find their way to the sea. 



NOTES. 313 

525. Ulverston is not far from Hawkshead. 

534. At Cartmell, where the Rev. William Taylor, master at Hawks- 
head School, 1782-6, was buried. Just before his death he sent for 
the upper boys of the school (amongst whom was Wordsworth), and 
took leave of them with a solemn blessing. 

The blessing which to you 
Our common Friend and Father sent. 

Address to the Scholars of the Village School. 

536. Besides the inscription are the following lines from Gray : 

His merits, stranger, seek not to disclose, 

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, etc. 

552. The writing of poetry was imposed as a task upon the boys of 
the Hawkshead Sthool. See lines Written as a School Exercise 
Anno j&tatis, 14. 

576. Another star of hope was now to be seen above the horizon of 
his fears, and enthusiasm was rekindled in his bosom by the thought 
that the world would now recognize the laws of righteousness. 

596-98. On his way to Hawkshead from Furness Abbey and Conis- 
head Priory, See note, line 102, Book II. 



BOOK ELEVENTH. 

I. Time : The " Reign of Terror " ended with the death of 
Robespierre. 

II. In the people : How deep was that faith which could still trust 
in the conscience of the masses ! It shows what an influence the 
honesty and sincerity of those companions of his, the shepherds, had 
had upon his young life. 

53-73. The dread of Revolution in England was in consequence of 
there being many supporters of France there. The habeas corpus was 
suspended, and some Scottish Whigs were ordered to be transported. 

98. / began : He was now to use his intellect more than his heart, 
and to study man as a citizen; the result was that he was led to take 



314 NOTES. 

a greater interest in political and national questions than any poet of 
his time. 

105-44. These lines first appeared in the Friend, Oct. 6, 1809. 
They were written in 1805, and, as he looked back on the dream 
which was now becoming fulfilled, it added new enthusiasm to the 
cause of Humanity, and made him the champion of the rights of man. 
It also furnished him the impulse to write that philosophical poem, The 
Excursion. 

175. In 1795. 

206. In this act his last hopes of liberty suffered eclipse, and he was 
overwhelmed with shame and despondency; yet his hatred of oppres- 
sion became stronger than ever, for he believed that in this movement 
all the darkest events of the old regime were combined. He uttered 
his indignation in that remarkable series of sonnets on liberty. 

223-320. He now set about the analysis of right in the abstract, and 
in this operation even the grounds of right disappeared. This was the 
crisis of his life. He now plunged into the nether gloom by the use 
of this critical faculty. He grew sceptical of faith, which could not be 
demonstrated by logic. He fell under the absolute despotism of the 
eye; "all things were put to question," and he began to think that this 
power of seeing was nobler than the power of feeling, and to judge 
that all his life had been conducted upon a wrong principle. We see 
this experience repeated again and again at the present day. The 
thraldom of sense is supreme, and true love of Nature has no resting- 
place. The scientific spirit dries up both heart and conscience; a com- 
plex worldly life is creating a worldliness of the eye. 

333-48. Then it was : In the winter of 1794 he joined his sister at 
Halifax. He had not seen her since 1790. She had always been his 
better angel, and in this sickness of his soul she knew what remedy to 
apply. She visited with him many of the most interesting districts 
of their native Cumberland, and amid the freshness and beauty of 
Nature his feverish spirit was soothed and healed; he was brought 
back to his true self; wandering around among the rural people, he 
partook of their joys and their sorrows; and in this occupation his 
own joy returned. The world has loved to view the picture of the 
devotion of Charles and Mary Lamb in their lives of sadness; the 



NOTES. 315 

companion picture of William and Dorothy Wordsworth is not less 
interesting and touching. Mr. Paxton Hood says : " Not Laura with 
Petrarch, nor Beatrice with Dante are more really connected than 
Wordsworth with his sister Dorothy." See Dorothy Wordsworth; 
or, Story of a Sisters Love, by Edmund Lee ; also Tintern Abbey. 

360. In 1804 Buonaparte summoned the Pope to anoint him emperor 
of France. 

376. Coleridge was living in Sicily, whither he had gone from 
Malta. See Vol. IX., Knight's edition of Wordsworth. 

379. Timoleon : A Greek who reduced Sicily to order. He refused 
all titles, and lived as a private citizen. See Plutarch's Lives. 

418-23. See sonnet on Departure of Sir Walter Scott for Naples. 

434. Empedodes : Philosopher of Agrigentum. 

435. Archimedes: Geometrician of Syracuse. 

437. Theocritus: Pastoral poet of Syracuse. See Burns' poem, 
Pastoral Poetry. 

444. Comates : See Theocritus, Idyll, VII., 28. 
450. At Dove Cottage. See note, line 74, Book I. 



BOOK TWELFTH. 

1-43. Healing had been ministered to a mind diseased, and he now 
looked upon the face of Nature with the imaginative delight of child- 
hood yet with a fuller appreciation of the sources of her beauty. The 
experience through which he had passed had strengthened, matured, and 
disciplined his mind, so that it became the fountain from whence issued 
much of what was high and unworldly in the thought of the following 
generation. The harmony of thought and language in this passage is 
hardly surpassed by that of the Tintern Abbey poem; the notes are as 
joyous as those of his own skylark, 

With a soul as strong as a mountain river, 
Pouring out praise to the~Almighty Giver. 

44-74. In this review of his struggles he is more minute in his de- 
lineation than heretofore, and shows us to what extremes the tyranny of 



316 NOTES. 

sense had driven him. He came to look upon the heroic in Man as of 
little advantage unless it could be demonstrated to have proceeded by 
logical processes; hence the Epics as well as the Lyrics were useless, 
and all study and enjoyment of them a mistake. His was no longet 
the spirit of the artist, but that of the art critic. 

88-151. He transferred his observation and analysis now from 
Man to Nature, and put her under the malignant spell; and the result 
was the denuding and unsouling of all natural scenes and objects. 
Nature became a laboratory instead of a garden. 

151. And ytt I knew a maid, etc.: The reference here is not to 
his sister, but to the first meeting of Miss Hutchinson, who afterward 
became his wife. Next to the blessing of that sister, who conducted 
him from the region of despair and spiritual death to that of assured 
hope and enlargement of soul, stands that 

Creature not too bright or good 
For human nature's daily food. 
A perfect woman nobly planned, 
To warn, to comfort, and command. 

The simplicity of her manner, and her soothing and sustaining influ- 
ence is celebrated in many lines of the poet's later works. In the 
companionship of two such appreciative and home-hearted women, he 
was blessed beyond most of his brethren in song. 

174-207. Once he worshipped without criticising, and enjoyed with- 
out dissecting; but the miserable carping spirit, which he now pos- 
sessed, kept him continually on the lookout for the how and the why, 
a sort of malignant motive-hunting. 

208-25. Here we have the ground idea of the great Ode, the 
power of redemption possessed by the recollection of early impressions. 
Looking back to that imperial Palace whence we came, we get 
nourishment and recreation for the business of life. It is this element 
in Wordsworth's poetry that gives it its unwithering freshness, its 
power to make us see beauty in the commonplace, and to help us 
idealize the real. Thus Wordsworth's philosophy is not a theory; it is 
a life. It had saved him from despondency and spiritual death; it 
will recreate all of those who will but put themselves under its 
influences. 



NOTES. 317 

253-61. It was in truih, etc. ; For similar thought, see text, 364- 
391, Book VIII. 

261-71. When, etc.: The spiritual freedom which sets the poet's 
imagination into action seldom fails to centre it upon solid foundations. 
In this he differs so much from Coleridge, whose imagination seems to 
wander through the mazes of every new association, regardless of any 
focal point. In lines 426-432, Book VIII., Wordsworth dwells upon 
these differences and says : 

I had forms distinct 
To steady me. 

272-86. The child spirit is immortal. 

But for those first affections, 

Those shadowy recollections, 

Which, be they what they may, 

Are yet the fountain light of all our day, 

Are yet the master light of all our seeing. 

Ode en Immortality. 

287. One Christmas time : This was evidently 1 783. His father 
was then living at Penrith, and the led palfreys would go by Kirkstone 
Pass and Ambleside. From Ambleside to Hawkshead there are two 
roads which meet within about two miles of Hawkshead village; here 
there are two crags, either of which would answer the description. 

311-35. Wordsworth in this passage corroborates what has already 
been said of his susceptibility to sound; he is always listening, and 
when he afterwards recalls the scenes, he blends sights and sounds, the 
latter often being the most prominent. In early life his imagination 
was too masculine and severe; the terrible pleased him more than the 
tender, and he was blind to the sweetness of character, and the repose 
of the landscape. Through the humanizing influence of his sister he 
was softened; she gave him a- 

Heart, the fountain of sweet tears, 
And love and thought and joy. 



318 NOTES. 



BOOK THIRTEENTH. 

l-io. The power with which Wordsworth illustrated this truth makes 
him one of the greatest teachers and benefactors of his age. He is no 
less the poet of contemplation than the poet of passion, and the lesson 
was taught him by Nature. It is only by calmness in the midst of pas- 
sion that the highest beauty in poetry is attained. All of Wordsworth's 
finest poetry is the result of emotions recollected in tranquillity. 

They flash upon the inward eye, 
Which is the bliss of solitude. 

1 1-47. Returning now from the study of Science to the beauty and 
sublimity of Nature, he found in her the " image of right reason," which 
he could take with him into the world of man. 

48-119. His emotion being now under regulation, he determined to 
find out the truths of human life, and what were the elements of per- 
manence in human feelings. He gave up his sanguine schemes for the 
regeneration of mankind, and turned to the abodes of simple men, 
where duty, love, and reverence were to be found in their true relation 
and worth. Here he found that human heart, 

The haunt and main region of song. 

130-141. His wounded heart was healed as he experienced the 
" love in huts where poor men lie." 

He wandered far ; and much did he see of men, 
Their manners, their enjoyments, and pursuits, 
Their possessions and their feelings; chiefly those 
Essential and eternal in the heart. 

. 141-60. From the terrace-walk in the garden of the Cockermouth 
home can be seen the hill here referred to, and the road running over 
its summit. The road is now only a foot-path, but was then a public 
way to Isel, a town on the Derwent. 

160-85. The riches which he gleaned from these mines of neglected 
wealth made him the singer of " simple songs for thinking hearts," and 
essentially the poet of home. He learned 

How verse may build a princely throne 
On humble truth. 



NOTES. 319 

186-220. Wordsworth here touches the core of our modern artificial 
life and thinking, and he teaches us that unless we estimate life by 
other terms than those of matter and flesh, we are but hastening the 
crisis when class shall be arrayed against class, we are sowing the 
germs of another Revolution. 

220-78. This passage is the finest in thought, and the most perfect 
in expression, of any of the Prelude. It illustrates the courage of the 
man who dared thus, in an age of superficiality and pride, to fly in the 
face of all the poetical creeds, and make the joys and sorrows that we 
encounter on the common high road of life the subjects of his song. 
Hence you will never find the man who passes his life in society take 
any interest in Wordsworth's poetry; it breathes an atmosphere too 
bracing for such characters. Frederick Robertson says : " A man 
whose object is to have a position in what is called fashionable life is 
simply incapable of enjoying the highest poetry." 

314. Sarum's Plain : In 1793 he wandered with his friend William 
Calvert over Salisbury Plain. 

353. Unpremeditated Strains : The Descriptive Sketclies. Cole- 
ridge happened upon these when an undergraduate at Cambridge, 1 793, 
and wrote of them: "Seldom, if ever, was the emergence of a great 
and original poetic genius above the literary horizon more evidently 
announced." 

361. The poets did not meet until 1797. 



BOOK FOURTEENTH. 

I-IO. In the summer of 1793 he visited his friend Jones in Wales. 

35-130. Of this vision of the transmuting power of imagination, 
Stopford Brooke says : " It is one of the finest specimens of Words- 
worth's grand style. It is as sustained and stately as Milton, but differs 
from Milton's style in the greater simplicity of diction." Here is estab- 
lished the harmony between God, Man, and Nature. In this expe- 
rience is the completion in Wordsworth of the marriage of Mind to the 
Universe and to God. In this, too, he found the guide and anchor of 



320 NOTES. 

his being. Eor an illustration of this result upon his poetry see Stanzas 
on Peele Castle in a Storm and The Yew-Trees of Borrowdale ; there 
is nothing like it in English poetry. The rapture which he feels in the 
presence of the life of Nature, when the soul of man receives her in- 
flowing soul, is a deep religious consciousness it is love and worship. 
Such poetry cannot live upon appearances; it dies in an atmosphere 
of Positivism and Agnosticism, for "all great art is the expression of 
Man's delight in the work of God." 

168-69. -By ^ ove ' ^ great poet has been content with mere outward 
Nature; he must pass through it to the soul of man. Wordsworth 
never rests in what appears to the outward eye; he rests only in the 
aspirations caused by what the senses reveal. 

188-92. Even the love between man and man must rise by imagi- 
nation of what we are to become, or else it is not spiritual; it does not 
rise above natural affection. We must 

Look abroad, 
And see to what fair countries they are bound. 

Unless imagination can look to the celestial mountains, and see them, 
not as floating clouds, but as solid substance, spiritual love must pine 
and die, and there can be no 

Blessed consolations in distress. 

253. See Sparrow's Nest and Tintern Abbey, " What was once 
harsh in Wordsworth was toned by the womanly sweetness of his 
sister; and with a devotion as rare as it was noble, she dedicated to 
him her life and service." EDMUND LEE. 

266-68. Mary Hutchinson. See She was a Phantom of Delight, 
second stanza. 

281. Wordsworth said : "He and my sister are the two beings to 
whom my intellect is most indebted." 

311. See Advertisement to this work, page I. 

353. After leaving London, 1793, he went to the Isle of Wight, the 
valley of the Wye, and later visited with his sister the scenes of his 
youth in Cumberland and Westmoreland. 

355-69. Calvert : Raislay Calvert, a young man much in the same 
position of life as Wordsworth, who, although he did not write verses, 



NOTES. 321 

could appreciate genius, and believed that Wordsworth possessed it. 
In January, 1794, while Wordsworth was unsettled in his plans for 
life, and while he was waiting for a reply to an application for a 
position on a newspaper, Calvert was taken sick, and Wordsworth 
went to take care of him at Penrith, remaining with him until his death. 
It was found on opening his will that he had left Wordsworth .900; 
this enabled him to share a home with his sister, and, in 1795, they 
settled at Racedoun Lodge, in Dorsetshire. It was here that Coleridge 
visited them two years later. 

396. See prefatory note. 

404-7. The Idiot Boy and The Thorn. 

419. In the spring of 1800 their brother John, who was captain 
of an East Indiaman, came to their new home at Grasmere. He 
thoroughly appreciated his brother's poems, and predicted their ultimate 
success. He remained with them about eight months, and in the fall 
he started upon the voyage which he intended should be his last, as he 
desired to live with his brother and sister. He often said that he would 
work for them while they were endeavoring to do something for the 
world. In February, 1805, his vessel was wrecked off Portland, and 
all on board perished. There are touching allusions to him in Elegiac 
Stanzas, Character of the Happy Warrior, and Lines siiggested by 
seeing Peele Castle in a Storm, all testifying to his refined taste, true 
nobility of character, and devotion to his brother and sister. 

430-54. The concluding lines of this " anthem of a beautiful and 
holy life " show his conviction of the high calling of a poet. In the 
following sonnet to Haydon, the artist, he has given expression to this 

ideal : 

High is our calling, Friend! Creative Art 

(Whether the instrument of words she use, 

Or pencil pregnant with ethereal hues) 

Demands the service of a mind and heart, 

Though sensitive, yet in their weakest part 

Heroically fashioned, to infuse 

Faith in the whispers of the lonely Muse, 

When the whole world seems adverse to desert, etc. 

The grand determination with which, abandoning professional life 
and giving himself to counteracting the " mechanical and utilitarian 
theories of his time," he stood up against ridicule and obloquy, cannot 



322 NOTES. 

be matched in literature. Mr. Edwin P. Whipple, in his admirable 
review of Wordsworth, says : " Wordsworth never will be a popular 
poet so long as readers do not distinguish between being passionate 
and being impassioned, and who prefer strength of convulsion to 
strength of repose; readers who will attend only to what stirs and 
startles the sensibility, who read poetry not for its nourishing but for 
its inflaming qualities, and who look upon poetic fire as properly con- 
suming the mind it animates. Wordsworth is not for them unless they 
go to him as a spiritual physician in search of 'balm for hurt minds.' 
Placed in a period of time when great passions in the heart generated 
monstrous paradoxes in the brain, he clung to these simple but essential 
elements of human nature on which true power and true elevation must 
rest; and, while all around him sounded the whine of sentimentality 
and the hiss of Satanic pride, his mission, like that of his own beautiful 
blue streamlet, the Duddon, was ' to heal and cleanse, not madden and 
pollute.' " 



ENGLISH LITERATURE. 



"The chief glory of every people arises from its authors." 

An Introduction to the Stiidy of Robert 

Browning's Poetry. By HIRAM CORSON, LL.D., Professor of Rhetoric 
and English Literature in the Cornell University. 5# by 7^ inches. 
x+338 pages. Cloth. Price by mail, $1.50; Introduction price, $1.40. 

THE purpose of this volume is to afford some aid and guidance to 
the study of Robert Browning's Poetry, which being the most 
complexly subjective of all English poetry, is, for that reason alone, the 
most difficult. And then the poet's favorite art form, the dramatic, or 
rather psychologic, monologue, which is quite original with himself, and 
peculiarly adapted to the constitution of his genius, and to the revela- 
tion of themselves by the several " dramatis personae," presents certain 
structural difficulties, but difficulties which, with an increased familiar- 
ity, grew less and less. The exposition presented in the Introduction, 
of its constitution and skilful management, and the Arguments given 
to the several poems included in the volume, will, it is hoped, reduce, 
if not altogether remove, the difficulties of this kind. In the same 
section of the Introduction certain peculiarities of the poet's diction, 
which sometimes give a check to the reader's understanding of a pas- 
sage, are presented and illustrated. 

It is believed that the notes to the poems will be found to cover all 
points and features of the texts which require explanation and elucida- 
tion. At any rate, no real difficulties have been wittingly passed by. 

The following Table of Contents will give a good idea of the plan 
and scope of the work : 

I. The Spiritual Ebb and Flow exhibited in English Poetry from Chaucer to 

Tennyson and Browning. 

II. The Idea of Personality and of Art as an intermediate agency of Person- 
ality, as embodied in Browning's Poetry. (Read before the Brown- 
ing Society of London in 1882.) 



110 ENGLISH LITERATURE. 

III. Browning's Obscurity. 

IV. Browning's Verse. 

V. Arguments of the Poems. 
VI. Poems. (Under this head are thirty-three representative poems, the 

Arguments of which are given in the preceding section.) 
VII. List of criticisms of Browning's works, selected from Dr. FurnivalPs 
"Bibliography of Robert Browning" contained in the Browning 
Society's Papers. 

From Albert S. Cook, Professor of English Literature in the 
University of California : 

Among American expositors of Browning, Professor Corson is easily 
first. He has not only satisfied the English organization which devotes 
itself to the study of the poet, but, what is perhaps a severer test, he 
attracts the reader to whom Browning is only a name, and, in the com- 
pass of one small volume, educates him into the love and appreciation 
of the poet. If Browning is to be read in only a single volume, this, 
in my opinion, is the best ; if he is to be studied zealously and exhaus- 
tively, Professor Corson's book is an excellent introduction to the com- 
plete series of his works. 

From The Critic : 

Ruskin, Browning, and Carlyle all have something in common: a 
vast message to deliver, a striking way of delivering it, and an over- 
mastering spirituality. In none of them is there mere smooth, smuck 
surface : all are filled with the fine wrinkles of thought wreaking itself 
on expression with many a Delphic writhing. A priest with a message 
cares little for the vocal vehicle ; and yet the utterances of all three 
men are beautifully melodious. Chiefest of them all in his special 
poetic sphere appears to be Browning, and to him Professor Corson 
thinks our special studies should be directed. This book is a valuable 
contribution to Browning lore, and will doubtless be welcomed by the 
Browning clubs of this country and England. It is easy to see that 
Professor Corson is more than an annotator: he is a poet himself, and 
on this account he is able to interpret Browning so sympathetically. 

From The Unitarian Review, Boston, March, 1887 : 

More than almost any other poet, Browning at least, his reader 

needs the help of a believing, cheery, and enthusiastic guide, to 

the weary pilgrimage. 



ENGLISH LITERATURE. 



113 



F. A. March, Prof, in Lafayette Coll.: 
Let me congratulate you on having 
brought out so eloquent a book, and 
acute, as Professor Corson's Browning. 
I hope it pays as well in money as it must 
in good name. 

Rev. Joseph Cook, Boston : Pro- 
fessor Corson's Introduction to Robert 
Browning's Poetry appears to me to be 
admirably adapted to its purposes. It 
forms an attractive porch to a great and 
intricate cathedral. (Feb. 21, 1887.) 

Louise M. Hodgkins, Prof, of 
English Literature, Wellesley Coll. : I 
consider it the most illuminating text- 
book which has yet been published on 
Browning's poems. (March 12, 1887.) 

P. H. Giddings, in " The Paper 
World" Springfield, Mass. : It is a stim- 
ulating, wisely helpful book. The argu- 
ments of the poems are explained in 
luminous prose paragraphs that take the 
reader directly into the heart of the poet's 
meaning. Chapters on Browning's ob- 
scurity and Browning's verse clear away, 
or rather show the reader how to over- 
come by his own efforts, the admitted 
difficulties presented by Browning's style. 
These chapters bear the true test ; they 
enable the attentive reader to see, as Pro- 
fessor Corson sees, that such features of 
Browning's diction are seldom to be con- 
demned, but often impart a peculiar 
crispness to the expressions in which 
they occur. 

The opening chapter of the book is 
the finest, truest introduction to the study 
of English literature, as a whole, that any 
American writer has yet produced. 

This chapter leads naturally to a pro- 
found and noble essay, of which it would 
be impossible to convey any adequate 
conception in a paragraph. It prepares 
the reader for an appreciation of Brown- 
ing's loftiest work. (March, 1887.) 

Melville B. Anderson, Prof, of 
English Literature, Purdue Univ., in 



" The Dial," Chicago : The arguments to 
the poems are made with rare judgment. 
Many mature readers have hitherto been 
repelled from Browning by real difficul- 
ties such as obstruct the way to the inner 
sanctuary of every great poet's thought. 
Such readers may well be glad of some 
sort of a path up the rude steeps the 
poet has climbed and whither he beck- 
ons all who can to follow him. 
(January, 1887.) 

Queries, Buffalo, N.Y.: It is the 
most noteworthy treatise on the poe- 
try of Browning yet published. Pro- 
fessor Corson is well informed upon the 
poetic literature of the age, is an admi- 
rably clear writer, and brings to the 
subject he has in hand ample knowl- 
edge and due we had almost said 
undue reverence. It has been a labor 
of love, and he has performed it well. 
The book will be a popular one, as 
readers who are not familiar with or do 
not understand Browning's poetry either 
from incompetency, indolence, or lack 
of time, can here gain a fair idea of 
Browning's poetical aims, influence, and 
works without much effort, or the ex- 
pense of intellectual effort. Persons 
who have made a study of Browning's 
poetry will welcome it as a matter of 
course. (December, 1886.) 

Education, Boston : Any effort to 
aid and guide the young in the study of 
Robert Browning's poetry is to be com- 
mended. But when the editor is ;ible to 
grasp the hidden meaning and make 
conspicuous the poetic beauties of so 
famous an author, and, withal, give such 
clever hints, directions, and guidance to 
the understanding and the enjoyment of 
the poems, he lays us all under unusual 
obligations. It is to be hoped that this 
book will come into general use in the 
high schools, academies, and colleges of 
America. It is beautifully printed, in 
clear type, on good paper, and is well 
bound. (February, 1887.) 



THE STUDY OF ENGLISH. 

Practical Lessons in the Use of English. 

For Primary and Grammar Schools. By MARY F. HYDE, Teacher of 
Composition in the State Normal School, Albany, N.Y. 

'""PHIS work consists of a series of Practical Lessons, designed to aid 
the pupil in his own use of English, and to assist him in under- 
standing its use by others. No topic is introduced for study that does not 
have some practical bearing upon one or the other of these two points. 

The pupil is first led to observe certain facts about the language, and 
then he is required to apply those facts in various exercises. At every 
step in his work he is compelled to think. 

The Written Exercises are a distinctive feature of this work. These 
exercises not only give the pupil daily practice in using the knowledge 
acquired, but lead him to form the habit of independent work. 

Simple exercises in composition are given from the first. In these 
exercises the aim is not to train the pupil to use any set form of words, 
but so to interest him in his subject, that, when writing, he will think 
simply of what he is trying to say. 

Special prominence is given to letter-writing and to written forms 
relating to the ordinary business of life. 

The work will aid teachers as well as pupils. It is so arranged that 
even the inexperienced teacher will have no difficulty in awakening an 
interest in the subjects presented. 

This series consists of three parts (in two volumes), the lessons 
being carefully graded throughout : 

Part First. For Primary Schools. Third Grade. [Ready. 

Part Second. For Primary Schools. Fourth Grade. (Part Second will 

be bound with Part First. ) \_Ready soon. 

Part Third. For Grammar Schools. [Ready in September. 

The Rnglish Language ; Its Grammar, His- 
tory, and Literature. By Prof. J. M. D. MEIKLEJOHN, of the University 
of St. Andrews, Scotland. One volume, viii + 388 pages. Introduction 
price, $1.30. Price by mail, $1.40. Also bound in two parts. 

"O EADABLE in style. Omits insignificant details. Treats all salient 
features with a master's skill, and with the utmost clearness and 
simplicity. Contains : 



THE STUDY OF ENGLISH. 



I. A concise and accurate resume of the principles and rules of English 
Grammar, with some interesting chapters on Word-Building and 
Derivation, including an historical dictionary of Roots and Branches, 
of Words Derived from Names of Persons or of Places, and of Words 
Disguised in Form, and Words Greatly Changed in Meaning. 
II. Thirty pages of practical instruction in Composition, Paraphrasing, Ver- 
sification, and Punctuation. 

III. A History of the English Language, giving the sources of its vocabulary 

and the story of its grammatical changes, with a table of the Land- 
marks in the history, from the Beowulf to Tennyson. 

IV. An Otilline of the History of English Literature, embracing Tabular 

Views which give in parallel columns, (#) the name of an author; 
() his chief works; (<r) notable contemporary events; (if) the cen- 
tury, or decade. 

The Index is complete, and is in the most helpful form for the 
student or the general reader. 

The book will prove invaluable to the teacher as a basis for his 
course of lectures, and to the student as a compact and reliable state- 
ment of all the essentials of the subject. {Ready August \$th. 

Wordsworth's Prelude ; an Autobiographical 

Poem. Annotated by A. J. GEORGE, Acting Professor of English Litera- 
ture in Boston University, and Teacher of English Literature, Newton 
(Mass.) High School. [Text ready in September. Notes later. 

''"PHIS work is prepared as an introduction to the life and poetry of 
Wordsworth, and although never before published apart from the 
author's complete works, has long been considered as containing the 
key to that poetic philosophy which was the characteristic of the "New 
Brotherhood." 

The Disciplinary Value of the Study of 

English. By F. C. WOODWARD, Professor of English and Latin, Wofford 
College, Spartanburg, S.C. 

'T'HE author restricts himself to the examination of the arguments 

for the study of English as a means of discipline, and shows 

that such study, both in schools and in colleges, can be made the 

medium of as sound training as the ancient languages or the other 



THE STUDY OF ENGLISH. 



modern languages would give ; and that the study of English forms, 
idioms, historical grammar, etc., is the only linguistic discipline possible 
to th<j great masses of our pupils, and that it is entirely adequate to 
the revolts required of it as such. He dwells especially on the dis- 
ciplinary value of the analytical method as applied to the elucidation of 
English syntax, and the striking adaptation of English constructions to 
the exact methods of logical analysis. This Monograph discusses 
English teaching in the entire range of its disciplinary uses from pri- 
mary school to high collegiate work. {Ready in August. 

English in the Preparatory Schools. 

By ERNEST W. HUFFCUT, Instructor in Rhetoric in the Cornell University. 

'T A HE aim of this Monograph is to present as simply and practically 
as possible some of the advanced methods of teaching English 
grammar and English composition in the secondary schools. The 
author has kept constantly in mind the needs of those teachers who, 
while not giving undivided attention to the teaching of English, are 
required to take charge of that subject in the common schools. The 
defects in existing methods and the advantages of fresher methods are 
pointed out, and the plainest directions given for arousing and main- 
taining an interest in the work and raising it to its true place in the 
school curriculum. [Ready in August. 

The Study of Rhetoric in the College Course. 

By J. F. GENUNG, Professor of Rhetoric in Amherst College. 

'HIS book is the outcome of the author's close and continued in- 
quiry into the scope and limits of rhetorical study as pursued by 
undergraduates, and of his application of his ideas to the organization 
of a progressive rhetorical course. The first part defines the place of 
rhetoric among the college studies, and the more liberal estimate of its 
scope required by the present state of learning and literature. This is 
followed by a discussion of what may and should be done, as the most 
effective practical discipline of students toward the making of literature. 
Finally, a systematized and progressive course in rhetoric is sketched, 
being mainly the course already tried and approved in the author's 
own classes. [Ready. 



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